The effect of the density and in-plane distribution of interfacial interactions on crack initiation in an epoxy-silicon joint was studied in nominally pure shear loading. Well-defined combinations of strong (specific) and weak (nonspecific) interactions were created using self-assembling monolayers. The in-plane distribution of strong and weak interactions was varied by employing two deposition methods: depositing mixtures of molecules with different terminal groups resulting in a nominally random distribution, and depositing methyl-terminated molecules in domains defined lithographically with the remaining area interacting through strong acid-base interactions. The two distributions lead to very different fracture behavior. For the case of the methyl-terminated domains (50 μm on a side) fabricated lithographically, the joint shear strength varies almost linearly with the area fraction of strongly interacting sites. From this we infer that cracks nucleate on or near the interface over nearly the entire range of bonded area fraction and do so at nearly the same value of local stress (load/bonded area). We postulate that the imposed heterogeneity in interfacial interactions results in heterogeneous stress and strain fields within the epoxy in close proximity to the interface. Simply, the bonded areas carry load while the methyl terminated domains carry negligible load. Stress is amplified adjacent to the well-bonded regions (and reduced adjacent to the poorly bonded regions), and this leads to crack initiation by plastic deformation and chain scission within the epoxy near the interface. For the case of mixed monolayers, the dependence is entirely different. At low areal density of strongly interacting sites, the joint shear strength is below the detection limit of our transducer for a significant range of mixed monolayer composition. With increasing density of strongly interacting sites, a sharp increase in joint shear strength occurs at a methyl terminated area fraction of roughly 0.90. We postulate that this coincides with the onset of yielding in the epoxy. For methyl-terminated area fractions less than 0.85, the joint shear strength becomes independent of the interfacial interactions. This indicates that fracture no longer initiates on the interface but away from the interface by a competing mechanism, likely plastic deformation and chain scission within the bulk epoxy. The data demonstrate that the in-plane distribution of interaction sites alone can affect the location of crack nucleation and the far-field stress required.