A laboratory investigation was conducted to evaluate the effects of styrene butadiene styrene (SBS) modification on the cracking resistance and healing characteristics of coarse-graded Superpave mixtures. Four types of asphalt mixtures with 6.1% and 7.2% design asphalt contents using unmodified and SBS-modified asphalt cement were produced in the laboratory. Tests performed with the Superpave indirect tensile (IDT) test included repeated-load fracture and healing test, strength tests at two loading rates, and longer-term creep tests to failure. The test results showed that the benefit of SBS modifiers to mixture cracking resistance appeared to be primarily derived from a reduced rate of micro-damage accumulation. The reduced rate of damage accumulation was reflected in a lower m value without a reduction in fracture limit or healing rates. It was shown that the benefits of the SBS modifier were clearly identified by using the hot-mix asphalt fracture model, which accounts for the combined effects of m value and fracture energy limit on cracking resistance. It was also determined that the residual dissipated energy as determined from Superpave IDT strength tests appears to be uniquely associated with the presence and benefit of SBS modification and may provide a quick way to make relative comparisons of cracking performance. Longer-term creep test showed that time to crack initiation appeared to provide another parameter uniquely related to the effects of SBS modification. The key to characterizing the effects of SBS modifier on the cracking resistance of asphalt mixture is in the evaluation of the combined effects of creep and failure limits.