In this paper, the effects of bearing and housing elasticity on the stress fields, which could result in surface fatigue in journal bearings, have been investigated. The parameters such as pressure gradient, flexibilities of backing and housing materials, presence of oil grooves, faulty or non-uniform housing supports and non-uniform temperature distributions have been individually considered as the sources of stresses in journal bearings. A parametric analysis of these has been carried out. The geometrical and physical interactions, that would affect the formation and magnitudes of tensile surface stresses to which the bearing alloys are particularly sensitive, have been investigated for both rigid and elastic housing conditions. Copyright (C) 1996 EIsevier Science Ltd.