This article provides an overview of the effects of various material- and process-related parameters on residual stress, distortion control, cracking, and microstructure/property relationships as they relate to various types of failure. It discusses phase transformations that occur during heat treating and describes the metallurgical sources of stress and distortion during heating and cooling. The article summarizes the effect of materials and the quench-process design on distortion and cracking and details the effect of cooling characteristics on residual stress and distortion. It also provides information on the methods of minimizing distortion and tempering. The article concludes with a discussion on the effect of heat treatment processes on microstructure/property-related failures.