The magnitude of force used in a stabbing incident can be difficult to quantify, although the estimate given by forensic pathologists is often seen as 'critical' evidence in medico-legal situations. The main objective of this study is to develop a quantitative measure of the force associated with a knife stabbing biological tissue, using a combined experimental and numerical technique. A series of stab-penetration tests were performed to quantify the force required for a blade to penetrate skin at various speeds and using different 'sharp' instruments. A computational model of blade penetration was developed using ABAQUS/EXPLICIT, a non-linear finite element analysis (FEA) commercial package. This model, which incorporated element deletion along with a suitable failure criterion, is capable of systematically quantifying the effect of the many variables affecting a stab event. This quantitative data could, in time, lead to the development of a predictive model that could help indicate the level of force used in a particular stabbing incident. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.