A personal computer based single specimen unloading technique has been demonstrated using a nuclear grade pressure vessel material, A533B Class I steel, and an ..cap alpha..-..beta.. titanium alloy, CORONA-5. Experimental parameters investigated in the case of steel include the effect of test temperature, loading rate and neutron irradiation. Results revealed the effect of dynamic strain aging (DSA) as a drop in the critical crack initiation fracture toughness (Jsub(q)); the minimum in Jsub(q) shifts to higher temperatures at higher test speeds as predicted from DSA models. In CORONA-5, the effects of microstructure and heat treatment for two different sizes of equiaxed ..cap alpha.. morphology in a ..beta..-matrix heat treated to different yield strengths were investigated. It is found that the observed higher values of Jsub(q) and tearing modulus result from a greater tortuosity of the crack path and ease of crack blunting. The largest increase in Jsub(q) occurred in fine equiaxed ..cap alpha.. microstructure aged to a nominal yield strength of 896 MPa. Results reveal potential application of the low cost technique for determining fracture toughness of engineering materials.