A shear-lag model of hybrid materials is developed. The model represents an alternating arrangement of two types of aligned linear elastic fibres, embedded in a linear elastic matrix. Fibre and matrix elements are taken to fail deterministically when the axial and shear stresses in them reach their respective strengths. An efficient solution procedure for determining the stress state for arbitrary configurations of broken fibre and matrix elements is developed. Starting with a single fibre break, this procedure is used to simulate progressive fibre and matrix failure, up to composite fracture. The effect of (1) the ratio of fibre stiffnesses, and (2) the ratio of the fibre tensile strength to matrix shear strength, on the composite failure mechanism, fracture energy, and failure strain is characterised. Experimental observations, reported in the literature, of the fracture behaviour of two hybrid materials, viz., hybrid unidirectional composites, and double network hydrogels, are discussed in the framework of the present model. © 2018, Springer Nature B.V.