The effects of three-dimensional crack configurations and delaminations on fracture mechanism and fracture toughness Jc of pipeline steel were investigated experimentally by use of tensile specimens having surface cracks of different depth to length ratio. Comparison with test results of through-thickness cracks and mechanism analyses are made as well. When 3D stress constraint is larger than the strength in the thickness direction the delamination forms. As no delamination occurs in the interior of a surface crack, the constraint is higher and the fracture toughness is lower than that of the through-thickness cracks. Therefore, the nominal fracture toughness obtained from through-thickness cracked specimens is not a real material constancy, and not suitable for safety assessment of pipelines.