Accurate computation of the critical response quantities for laminated composite structures has become essential, especially from the design and design certification point of view. Worst case scenario analysis (corresponding to the load envelope) of the structure require computation of local quantities of interest. In such a situation, control of both modelling error and discretisation error for the quantities of interest is required. In this study, for a fixed plate model, a novel adaptive procedure is presented, based on a posteriori estimation of the error in the quantity of interest. This focussed adaptive procedure involves prediction of the desired optimal mesh sizes in the neighborhood of the region of interest and away from the region of interest, based on an a priori estimate of the error in the quantity of interest. The final desired mesh is obtained in one shot. It is found that the error estimator, for the quantity of interest is reasonably robust. Further, the adaptive procedure is very effective in controlling the local error to within the specified tolerances. © 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.