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In this paper a fracture criterion is proposed for cracked cylindrical samples of high-strengthprestressing steels of diferent yield strength. The surface crack is assumed to be semi-elliptical, ageometry very adequate to model sharp defects produced by any subcritical mechanism of cracking:mechanical fatigue, stress-corrosion cracking, hydrogen embrittlement or corrosion fatigue. Two fracturecriteria with different meanings are considered: a global (energetic) criterion based on the energy releaserate G, and a local (stress) criterion based on the stress intensity factor KI. The advantages anddisadvantages of both criteria for engineering design are discussed in this paper on the basis of manyexperimental results of fracture tests on cracked wires of high-strength prestressing steels of diferent yieldstrength and with diferent degrees of strength anisotropy.