In recent years the reliability of optical fibers in special environments has become of great concern in military, government and other specialty high performance applications. With the first exploratory installations of fiber-to-the-home confirming the inherent requirements for a robust optical fiber, the telecommunications market and operating companies have had to begin considering how to minimize long term maintenance of optical fiber systems, which are subjected to a much broader range of dangers than in long haul or station to station installations. This paper discusses some background information on the strength and fatigue of optical fibers/cables, their reliability issues and several points concerning design and lifetime predictions for such components/systems. It includes information on standards efforts in fiber reliability and environmental testing as well as on SPIE efforts to present up-to-date information on these topic areas. Its intent is to point out problem areas for long term maintenance and present current approaches to minimize these problems rather than present solutions.