Carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRP) are increasingly used in the aerospace and automotive industry due to their high lightweight potential. Their high stiffness and strength to weight ratio and the possibility of placing the carbon fiber reinforcement along the load paths of structures is advantageous in comparison to traditional isotropic materials. However, numerous different manufacturing defects and complex damage modes can occur due to the interaction between carbon fibers and epoxy resin. Defects and damages have to be considered also in the design stage, otherwise parts with defects have to be classified as rejects. Especially the current fatigue design is conservative, e.g. Safe Life Flaw Tolerant design in the aerospace sector. In this thesis, different common manufacturing defects of high-pressure resin transfer molded non-crimp fabrics (NCF) are investigated. Their static and fatigue behavior is experimentally examined and validated with numerical simulations. The defects are an out-of-plane fiber waviness, a fold in fiber direction and a locally compacted region. Inplane tension and compression tests and out-of-plane delamination tests are performed using in-house designed test rigs. Damage initiation and progression are monitored using strain gages, extensometers, digital image correlation (DIC) and cameras. It was found that the fiber waviness has the most detrimental effect on the compressive load cases in fiber direction. Static strength and fatigue life are accordingly decreased depending on the defect angle. The ply fold in fiber direction is usually the site of damage initiation for the in-plane load cases; however, the detrimental effect is minimal. Loaded in through-thickness direction, a knock-down of 10% was observed. The locally compacted region was tested under tension static and fatigue load cases. It inherits fiber waviness and resin starved areas leading to higher knock-down factors of up to 36 %. Beside the effects of defects, the potential of a Structural Health Monitoring method for damage localization in CFRP structures is experimentally and numerically evaluated. The direct resistance measurement of CFRP was proposed to detect and localize damages. First, the resistance change of the same NCF material was measured and drilled holes were successfully detected. Second, an anisotropic CFRP plate was equipped with electrodes and the potential for damage localization could successfully be demonstrated.