Overload failures refer to the ductile or brittle fracture of a material when stresses exceed the load-bearing capacity of a material. This article reviews some mechanistic aspects of ductile and brittle crack propagation, including a discussion on mixed-mode cracking, which may also occur when an overload failure is caused by a combination of ductile and brittle cracking mechanisms. It describes the general aspects of fracture modes and mechanisms. The article discusses some of the material, mechanical, and environmental factors that may be involved in determining the root cause of an overload failure. It also presents examples of thermally and environmentally induced embrittlement effects that can alter the overload fracture behavior of metals.