Strain engineering is a powerful tool to tailor the physical properties of materials coherently stacked in an epitaxial heterostructure. Such an approach, applied to the mature field of planar heteroepitaxy, has yielded a variety of new phenomena and devices. Recently, heteroepitaxial vertically aligned nanocomposites have emerged as alternatives to planar structures. Owing to the peculiar geometry of such nanoarchitectures, efficient strain control can be achieved, opening the way to novel functionalities. In this paper, we report a very large tensile axial strain in epitaxial transition metal nanowires embedded in an oxide matrix. We show that axial strains in excess of 1.5% can be sustained over a large thickness (a few hundred nanometers) in epitaxial nanowires having ultrasmall diameters (∼3–6 nm). The axial strain depends on the diameter of the nanowires, reflecting its epitaxial nature and the balance of interface and elastic energies. Furthermore, it is experimentally shown that such strain is metastable, in agreement with the calculations performed in the framework of the Frenkel-Kontorova model. The diameter dependence and metastability provide effective ways to control the strain, an appealing feature for the design of functional nanoarchitectures.