Gears can fail in many different ways, and except for an increase in noise level and vibration, there is often no indication of difficulty until total failure occurs. This article reviews the major types of gears and the basic principles of gear-tooth contact. It discusses the loading conditions and stresses that effect gear strength and durability. The article provides information on different gear materials, the common types and causes of gear failures, and the procedures employed to analyze them. Finally, it presents a chosen few examples to illustrate a systematic approach to the failure examination.