A microstructurally oriented constitutive formulation for the hyperelastic response of crimped collagen fibrils existing in soft connective tissues is proposed. The model is based on observations that collagen fibrils embedded in a soft matrix crimp into a smooth three-dimensional pattern when unloaded. Following ideas presented by Beskos and Jenkins [Beskos, D., Jenkins, J., 1975. A mechanical model for mammalian tendon. ASME Journal of Applied Mechanics 42, 755-758] and Freed and Doehring [Freed, A., Doehring, T., 2005. Elastic model for crimped collagen fibrils. Journal of Biomechanical Engineering 127, 587-593] the collagen fibril crimp is approximated by a cylindrical helix to represent the constitutive behavior of the hierarchical organized substructure of biological tissues at the fibrillar level. The model is derived from the nonlinear axial force-stretch relationship of an extensible helical spring, including the full extension of the spring as a limit case. The geometrically nonlinear solution of the extensible helical spring is carried out by an iterative procedure. The model only requires one material parameter and two geometrical parameters to be determined from experiments. The ability of the proposed model to reproduce the biomechanical response of fibrous tissues is demonstrated for fascicles from rat tail tendons, for porcine cornea strips, and for bovine Achilles tendons. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.