In this paper, a comparative study regarding the determination of stress intensity factors (SIF) for non-standard thin composite plates is presented. Carbon-epoxy composite plates are considered for the study. Unnotched specimens and specimens containing either 4, 6 or 8 mm diameter holes are prepared and then tested. Based on the experimental data thus obtained, two analytical approaches and a finite element fracture analysis tool called FRANC2DL have been used to compare the critical SIF values for this composite material. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.