An algorithm which couples the level set method (LSM) with the extended finite element method (X-FEM) to model crack growth is described. The level set method is used to represent the crack location, including the location of crack tips. The extended finite element method is used to compute the stress and displacement fields necessary for determining the rate of crack growth. This combined method requires no remeshing as the crack progresses, making the algorithm very efficient. The combination of these methods has a tremendous potential for a wide range of applications. Numerical examples are presented to demonstrate the accuracy of the combined methods. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.