The fracture behavior of adhesively-bonded pultruded joints was experimentally investigated under Mode I loading using double cantilever beam specimens. The pultruded adherends comprised two mat layers on each side with a roving layer in the middle. An epoxy adhesive was used to form the double cantilever beam specimen. The pre-crack was introduced in three different depths in the adherend in order to induce crack initiation and propagation between different layers and thus investigate the effect of these different crack paths on the strain energy release rate. Short-fiber and roving bridging increased the fracture resistance during crack propagation. Specific levels of critical strain energy release rates could be attributed to each of the crack paths, with their levels depending on the amount of short-fiber bridging and the presence of a roving bridge. The different levels of critical strain energy release rate could be correlated to the morphology of the fracture surface and the strain energy release rate can thus be determined visually without any measurement. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.