A study is presented of delamination at the interface between a thin elastic film bonded to a substrate under conditions in which the film is subject to equi-biaxial compression. The focus is on initially circular delaminations. When the initial delamination is sufficiently large it buckles away from the substrate producing a blister which in turn induces a driving force on the interface crack tip. A two-part theoretical analysis of the coupled buckling/fracture problem is conducted: the axisymmetric growth of the circular blister, and the stability of the circular blister to nonaxisymmetric perturbations of the interface crack front. A simple criterion is identified which excludes the possibility of wide-spread delamination. Experiments are reported for a model film/substrate system (mica bonded to aluminum) chosen to allow visualization of the interface and to permit compressive stresses in the film to be generated over the full range of interest by exploiting the large thermal expansion mismatch of the system. The experiments bear out the theoretical prediction of a regime of axisymmetric growth which gives way to nonaxisymmetric blisters after a blister becomes sufficiently large. The study suggests that the wavy-circular and worm-like blister morphologies which are usually observed for delaminated films are a manifestation of the configurational instability of the interface crack front. © 1992.