An energy-based fracture mode has been derived for the mode I crack kinking and branching. The classic -integral has been further explored by a new partial integral path and the analytical solution of the energy release rate for crack kinking and branching from a mode-I crack tip has been established. The crack kinking/branching angle has also been analytically derived. It shows that the Griffith’s theorem and conservation law can be applied to both model I crack extension and model I crack kinking and branching. The branching mechanism for quasi-static mode-I crack has been theoretically investigated. The branching toughness and the K-based criterion for crack branching have been defined. The crack branching phenomena predicted by the present model are in well agreement with the experimental observations reported in the literatures.