The present work is devoted to the simulation of stress wave propagation through fractured elastic media, such as rock mass, by using the numerical manifold method (NMM). A single fracture is used to verify the capability and accuracy of the NMM in modeling fractured rock mass. The frequency-dependence on stress wave transmission across a fracture is analyzed. The influence of the fracture specific stiffness on the wave attenuation and effective wave velocity is discussed. The results from the NMM have a good agreement with those obtained from a theoretical displacement discontinuity method (DDM). Taking the advantage that the NMM is able to simulate highly fractured elastic media with a consistent mathematical cover system, a numerical example of stress wave propagation through a fractured rock mass with numerous inherent fractures is presented. It is showed that the results are reasonable and the NMM has a high efficiency in simulating stress wave propagation through highly fractured rock mass. A safety assessment of a tunnel under blast is conducted by using the NMM subsequently. The potential application of the NMM to a more complex fractured rock mass is demonstrated. © 2013 Imperial College Press.