In this study, the impact-damage tolerance of a graphite-fiber/epoxy composite laminate is studied by examining the correlation between the impact force and the resulting delamination area in the laminate. The crossply [0(2)/90(2)/0(2)](s) composite laminate was made of thermosetting P7051S-20Q-1000 prepregs (Toray Composites America). A Hopkinson pressure bar (HPB) was employed to create the impulsive loading with varying magnitude. Transient impact force, displacement, impact power, and transmitted impact energy were calculated using the transient signals recorded from the strain gage mounted on the HPB. Impulsive loads with controllable magnitude were used to induce delamination damage with varying size in the composite samples. Nondestructive evaluation based on a novel ultrasonic pulse-echo reflector technique was used successfully for characterizing the delamination areas in the thin composite samples with thickness similar to 2 mm. The present experimental results indicate that there exists a very good linear correlation between the impact force (e.g. the peak force, impact impulse, peak impact power, and the transmitted impact energy of the first impact force pulse exerted by the HPB) and the delamination area of the composite samples. This correlation can be used to determine the threshold of the impact force that initiates the delamination damage in the composite laminate. In contrast to the weight-drop test, the present experimental method successfully examined the impact damage tolerance of polymer matrix composites (PMCs) subjected to impulsive loading with very high force magnitude and ultra short duration such as the typical ballistic impact. The present method and results can be used for the study of impact damage tolerance of PMCs with varying lay-ups and interface modifications.