To facilitate and accelerate the process of introducing, evaluating and adopting new material systems, it is important to develop/establish comprehensive and effective procedures of characterization, modeling and failure prediction of structural laminates based on the properties of the constituent materials, e.g., fibers, matrix, and the single ply or lamina. A new failure theory, the Northwestern (NU-Daniel) theory, has been proposed for predicting lamina yielding and failure under multi-axial states of stress including strain rate effects. It is primarily applicable to matrix-dominated interfiber/ interlaminar failures. It is based on micromechanical failure mechanisms but is expressed in terms of easily measured macroscopic lamina stiffness and strength properties. It is presented in the form of a master failure envelope incorporating strain rate effects. The theory was further adapted and extended to the prediction of in situ first ply yielding and failure (FPY and FPF) and progressive failure of multi-directional laminates under static and dynamic loadings. The significance of this theory is that it allows for rapid screening of new composite materials without very extensive testing and offers easily implemented design tools.