Although a number of constitutive models for unsaturated soils exist in the literature, some fundamental questions have not been fully answered. There are questions related to (i) the change of the yield stress with soil suction, (ii) modelling slurry soils, and (iii) the smooth transition between saturated and unsaturated soil states. This paper addresses these questions by proposing an alternative modelling approach. The paper first presents a volumetric model for unsaturated soils. This volumetric model is then used to derive the yield surface in the suction – mean stress space. Hysteresis associated with soil-water characteristic curves is then formulated in the same framework of elastoplasticity. It is shown that volume collapse during wetting and plastic shrinkage during initial drying are both direct results of a suction-dependent hardening law. The proposed model seems to be more flexible in modelling different types of unsaturated soils than most models in the literature. The model can be applied to soils that are dried or loaded from initially slurry conditions, for soils that have low to high air-entry values, and for compacted soils as well. R.M. Quigley Award 2009 (to authors of the best paper published in the Canadian Geotechnical Journal in the preceding year).