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This article presents an overview of fatigue crack nucleation from the point of view of the material microstructure and its evolution during cycling. It describes the sites of microcrack nucleation at the free surfaces. The article discusses the relation of dislocation structures and surface relief and reviews the mechanisms of crack nucleation. The damage of material due to crack nucleation, the extent (in terms of the number of cycles) of the nucleation stage, and the factors influencing crack nucleation are discussed.

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