This article discusses the fundamental variables involved in fatigue-life assessment, which describe the effects and interaction of material behavior, geometry, and stress history on the life of a component. It compares the safe-life approach with the damage-tolerance approach, which employs the stress-life method of fatigue life assessment. The article examines the behavior of three different metallic materials used in the design and manufacture of structural components: steel, aluminum, and titanium. It also reviews the effects of retardation and spectrum load on component life. The article concludes with case studies of fatigue life assessment from the aerospace industry.