The S-L fracture toughness of aluminium-lithium based alloys is generally poor and this has limited their applicability, particularly in aerospace where good damage tolerance is required. The low S-L toughness has been attributed variously to grain boundary precipitation, planar slip and lithium segregation. This work examined the S-L fracture behaviour of an 8090 Al-Li-based alloy in 34-45mm plate. The results confirmed that the S-L fracture toughness decreases from the centre to the surface of plate material and increases with double ageing. Fracture is principally intergranular, with both ductile and brittle components occurring, but some transgranular fracture also occurs and this produces steps in the fracture plane. Changes in the relative proportions of brittle and ductile intergranular fracture, as well as in the amount of transgranular fracture, accompany the changes in toughness. However, the decrease in fracture toughness across the plate is accompanied principally by an increase in the relative proportion of brittle intergranular fracture, while the toughening produced by double ageing is accompanied principally by an increase in the amount of transgranular fracture. Evidence of coarse slip, indicative of slip planarity, was seen from slip steps and dislocation structures. However, planar slip was seen only towards the centre of the plate and not towards the surface. The level of planar slip was not reduced markedly by double ageing. Texture varied with position across the plate. There were also a larger number of low angle boundaries towards the centre of the plate than towards the surface. The hardness did not change across the plate. The results could not be explained fully in terms of either the grain boundary precipitate theory or the planar slip model, but were generally consistent with the lithium segregation model. However, the basic tenet of this model is that the level of embrittlement is influenced by the grain boundary structure, and the results did not indicate a substantial difference between the boundaries that failed in a ductile manner and those which failed by brittle fracture. This suggests that the factors which affect lithium segregation may be more complex than originally envisaged. �� 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.