A finite-element analysis was conducted to evaluate the stress distributions within Mode I and Mode II failure specimens, assuming both isotropic and orthotropic elastic material properties. The effects of anisotropy on both the magnitude and the location of the highest stress concentration at the vicinity of the crack tip are significant. The results from modeling realistic blunt crack tip geometry and resin-rich zones imply that local variations in the microstructure strongly influence the stress state near the crack tip and therefore the measured fracture properties. In addition, the features of a viscoelastic model for thermoplastic matrices are described. This model will be used in future investigations of matrix-dominated failure phenomena.