This paper considers the prediction of the effects of tensile and compressive residual stress in fracture mechanics specimens by the application of a mechanical pre-load. This is considered in the context of a ‘C’ shape specimen which is mechanically pre-tensioned or pre-compressed to produce, respectively, a compressive or tensile residual stress in the region where the crack is introduced. Finite-element analysis is performed to simulate the pre-loading and the subsequent fracture loading of the cracked specimens. The finite-element predictions are compared with experimental data including residual stress measurements using neutron diffraction. A discussion is presented on modelling and material issues pertaining to the use of mechanical pre-loading as a means for introducing residual stress.