Pervasive melting of the middle crust, as inferred in Tibet and the Altiplano, probably influences the deformation of the lithosphere. To constrain strain distribution in a pervasively molten crust, we analysed the deformation in an eroded analogue of these orogens. The Ribeira-Araçuaí orogen (SE Brazil) comprises a stack of allochthons containing large volumes of anatectic and magmatic rocks. The upper allochton (∼300 km long, 50–100 km wide and >10 km thick) involves peraluminous diatexites and leucogranites resulting from partial melting of the middle crust. It overlies another allochthon containing huge early- to syn-collisional plutons intruding metasediments. Both anatexites and magmatic intrusions display a pervasive strain-induced magmatic fabric. Homogeneous strain distribution suggests inefficient localization. U–Pb ages of ∼575 Ma imply that anatexite melting was synchronous to the early- to syn-collisional magmatism. Similarity in ages magmatic and solid-state fabrics indicates that intrusions and anatexites deformed coherently with solid-state rocks while still molten, in response to a combination of gravity-driven and collision-driven deformation.