- Cross-ply laminates with transverse plies containing through-width matrix cracks across the thickness of the transverse plies are studied using an energy-based approach, complementary to that of Hashin. An upper bound on the effective axial stiffness of the cracked laminates with a uniform distribution of transverse cracks is derived. The equations governing the field variables in a typical RVE are derived using the layerwise laminate theory of Reddy and are solved using the finite element method. The predicted reduction in the effective axial modulus is in good agreement with experimental results, and it approaches a fixed value with increase in crack density for laminates with both staggered and non-staggered cracking. Laminates with staggered cracks showed a greater reduction in effective modulus at lower crack densities. The stress distribution and mechanics of load transfer is examined in detail, at two crack densities including the characteristic damage state. The crack opening profile has been normalized in a special way in terms of the crack density, layup parameters and material properties.