- A finite element computational procedure has been developed to find linear and non-linear (von Krmn) first-ply failure loads of composite laminates subjected to in-plane and transverse loads. The finite element model is based on first-order shear deformation theory and several phenomenological failure criteria. Linear and non-linear first-ply failure loads are computed for a uniformly distributed transverse load, a concentrated transverse load acting at the centre of the plate, and a uniformly distributed in-plane edge load for simply supported and clamped boundary conditions. It is found that the failure loads predicted by various failure criteria differ from one another by a maximum of 35% in the case of linearloads and 50% in the case on non-linear loads; the failure locations differ from each other in a random way. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that the difference between the linear and non-linear failure loads is large in the case of transversely loaded simply supported laminates and thin plates. The difference is found to be quite small in the case of in-plane (tensile) loading and thick laminates. 1992.