In order to investigate the mechanisms and the factors to govern the brittle fracture initiation during the fatigue crack propagation at low temperatures, fracture toughness tests under wide range of loading rates, fatigue tests at low temperatures and fracture toughness tests after having been given pre-loading were performed on steels and weld junctions. The fatigue fracture toughness Kfc was estimated as equivalent as the fracture toughness Kc under the monotonic tensile loading if they were compared at the same loading rate, since the residual stress due to the cyclic loading was less effective on the brittle fracture initiation. The calculated fatigue life based on Paris’s formula taken into consideration of the crack closure phenomena showed a good one-by-one agreement with the observed fatigue life up to the brittle fracture initiation. Therefore, a design curve was preliminarily drawn to determine the fatigue life at low temperatures.

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