Primary load-bearing glass constructions are often subjected to relatively important in-plane loads, transferred through so-called point-fixed connections. The according in-plane load introduction, structural resistance and failure mechanisms have been studied abundantly for axial tensile loading cases, but are relatively unknown for axial compression, in particular when buckling of the compressed component cannot occur. Consequently, stress distributions, resistance and failure mechanisms of small glass specimens subjected to locally introduced axial compression are investigated and presented in this contribution using a coupled experimental and numerical approach. The stress distributions and observed fracture patterns demonstrated that the major failure mechanism was splitting tension: the glass fractured due to high tensile stresses following the compressive stresses. However, the maximal principal tensile stresses at the crack origin were significantly lower compared to the axial tensile loading case. In addition, and in contradiction to the tensile loading case, significant maximal principal compressive stresses were found at the crack origin, leading to the conclusion that the axially compressed glass panels failed due to a complex stress state and not simply to tensile stresses, as is generally assumed in glass design. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.