Bridging by intact fibers in composite materials is one of the most important toughening mechanisms. However, a direct experimental assessment of its contribution is not easy to achieve. In this work a semi-experimental method is proposed to quantify its contribution to fracture of unidirectional carbon fiber/epoxy double cantilever beam (DCB) specimens in mode I delamination under monotonic and 1 Hz fatigue loads. In each specimen, an embedded optical fiber with an array of eight wavelength-multiplexed fiber Bragg gratings is used to measure local strains close to the crack plane. The measured strain distribution serves in an inverse identification procedure to determine the tractions in the bridging zone in monotonic and fatigue loads. These tractions are used to calculate the energy release rate (ERR) associated with bridging fibers. The results indicate that the ERR due to bridging is about 40% higher in fatigue. The bridging tractions are further included in a cohesive element model which allows to predict precisely the complete load displacement curve of monotonic DCB tests. Using the principle of superposition and the identified tractions, the total stress intensity factor (SIF) is calculated. The results show that the SIF, at initiation, is very close to the one calculated at crack propagation and bridging by intact fibers is responsible for the entire increase in toughness seen in the DCB specimens used herein. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.