The failure strengths and modes of the woven S2-glass reinforced polyester thick laminate are characterized through a comprehensive set of experiments. Compression strength tests in different directions were performed, and optical and scanning electron microscopy studies of the fractured specimen surfaces were conducted. The failure modes are complex involving a combination of failure mechanisms. The failure stresses and strains in the ply lay-up direction were higher than those in the plane of the lamina. The material's dynamic response was determined using both the split Hopkinson pressure bar and the direct disk impact techniques. The material was found to be significantly strain rate sensitive. (C) 2002 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.