This paper investigated the initiation and propagation characteristics of impact-induced damage in carbon-fiber-reinforced-plastic (CFRP) laminates with different stacking sequences and thicknesses under low-velocity impact. Impact force histories were measured with a drop-weight impact tester. A strain gauge was attached on the back face of CFRP laminates to measure exactly when a matrix crack on its back face was initiated. It was found from fractographic observation that impact-induced damage in CFRP laminates was initiated at the matrix crack on the back face of CFRP laminates due to bending deformation during impact. Finite element analysis was conducted using the impact forces derived from the experimental results of the impact test. Its results clarified that the tensile stress normal to the fiber on the back face of the specimen was the criterion to initiate impact damage in CFRP laminates.