Inter-laminar toughening from sparsely distributed chopped fibers is analyzed in this paper. A detailed micromechanical model describing the special toughening effects of those chopped Kevlar fibers lying within the delamination plane has been developed. To determine bridging forces of the Kevlar fibers lying in the matrix near a delamination-crack face, a simplified model based on coupling of matrix spalling (matrix fracture following by separation of fiber away from the matrix) and fiber pull-out is proposed. The model is then used to study toughening of carbon-fiber/epoxy composite laminates with chopped Kevlar fibers. The model shows that the energy dissipation in the pull-out process of chopped Kevlar fibers is much more than that in the matrix spalling process. The numerical results indicate that interfacial properties, interactions among Kevlar fibers and percentage of Kevlar fibers involved in crack bridging play important roles in delamination toughening. The modelling results are in good agreement with the experimental results available in the literature. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.