This paper quantitatively presents the results of a case study which examines the fault tree analysis framework of the safety of digital systems. The case study is performed for the digital reactor protection system of nuclear power plants. The broader usage of digital equipment in nuclear power plants gives rise to the need for assessing safety and reliability because it plays an important role in proving the safety of a designed system in the nuclear industry. We quantitatively explain the relationship between the important characteristics of digital systems and the PSA result using mathematical expressions. We also demonstrate the effect of critical factors on the system safety by sensitivity study and the result which is quantified using the fault tree method shows that some factors remarkably affect the system safety. They are the common cause failure, the coverage of fault tolerant mechanisms and software failure probability. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.