Physical mechanisms that have been proposed to explain the occurrence of stick-slip motion during frictional sliding have been examined in the light of results obtained from experiments with rocks and brittle minerals. An instability caused by sudden brittle fracture of locked regions on surfaces in contact is the most likely explanation for stick-slip during dry frictional sliding of brittle rocks at room temperature. Areas requiring further study and the uncertainties in applying the results of laboratory experiments to earthquake studies are emphasized. ?? 1970.