A thorough investigation of failure behavior of composite sandwich beams under three- and four-point bending was undertaken. The beams were made of unidirectional carbon/epoxy facings and a PVC closed-cell foam core. The constituent materials were fully characterized and in the case of the foam core, failure envelopes were developed for general two-dimensional states of stress. Various failure modes including facing wrinkling, indentation failure and core failure were observed and compared with analytical predictions. The initiation, propagation and interaction of failure modes depend on the type of loading, constituent material properties and geometrical dimensions.