Over a period of 2 or 3 years, 40 to 50 premature failures of drawn high-tensile, pearlitic high-carbon (0.8 wt% C) steel wires used as cables for towing targets behind aircraft occurred. Six service failures were examined in detail. Four types of failure characteristics were noted. A close examination of wire that had been flown several times without failure was also made, and dynamic tests were conducted to investigate the fracture characteristics of wire subjected to dynamic loading. It was concluded that dynamic shock loading transmitted by the target during unsteady flight conditions was the major cause of failure. Recommendations emphasized the need for a suitable shock absorber to be fitted at the constant-tensioning device of the winch system.