A compression loaded sandwich column that contains a debond is analyzed using a geometrically non-linear finite element model. The model includes a cohesive zone along one face sheet/core interface whereby the debond can extend by interface crack growth. Two geometrical imperfections are introduced; a global imperfection of the sandwich column axis and a local imperfection of the debonded face sheet axis. The model predicts the sandwich column to be very sensitive to the initial debond length and the local face sheet imperfection. The study shows that the sensitivity to the face sheet imperfection results from two mechanisms: (a) interaction of local debond buckling and global buckling and (b) the development of a damaged zone at the debond crack tip. Based on the pronounced imperfection sensitivity, the author predicts that an experimental measurement of the strength of sandwich structures may exhibit a large scatter caused by geometrical variations between test specimens. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.