© 2020 Elsevier Ltd The embrittlement of metallic materials by hydrogen (H) segregation is widely observed, but not understood well on an atomic scale. In the present study, an atomistic investigation of H embrittlement of various grain boundaries (GBs) has been performed by mapping H segregation energy of trapping sites and examining the effect of H segregation on the decohesion of GBs. The simulation results show that under the equilibrium concentration of H atoms typical of embrittlement in Ni, in conjunction with local H diffusion process, the maximum reduction of tensile strength and fracture energy is 6.60% and 15.75% for Σ5 (210) ⟨100⟩ and Σ17 (530) ⟨100⟩ GBs, respectively. Inspired by experimental observations of the dislocation structures beneath intergranular failure features, further calculations reveal that the embrittling effect of H atoms in metallic materials can be largely facilitated by the boundary disruption and local stress state concentrated on the GB through the plasticity process. The findings directly provide a picture of H embrittlement arising from the cooperative action of H-induced plasticity and GB decohesion.