Facing compressive failure, facing wrinkling and core shear failure are the most commonly encountered failure modes in sandwich beams with facings made of composite materials. The occurrence and sequence of these failure modes depends on the geometrical dimensions, the form of loading and type of support of the beam. In this paper the above three failure modes in sandwich beams with facings made of carbon/epoxy composites and cores made of aluminum honeycomb and two types of foam have been investigated. Two types of beams, the simply supported and the cantilever have been considered. Loading included concentrated and uniform. It was found that in beams with foam core facing wrinkling and core shear failure occur, whereas in beams with honeycomb core facing compressive failure and core shear crimping take place. Results were obtained for the dependence of failure mode on the geometry of the beam and the type of loading. The critical beam spans for failure mode transition from core shear to wrinkling failure were established. It was found that initiation of a particular failure mode depends on the properties of the facing and core materials, the geometrical configuration and loading of composite sandwich beams.