Summary This paper presents an advanced constitutive model to describe the complex behavior of ceramic materials under impact loading conditions. The governing equations utilize a set of microphysically based constitutive relationships to model deformation and damage processes in a ceramic. The total strain is decomposed into elastic, plastic and microcracking components. The model parameters for AD85 ceramic were determined using the data from split Hopkinson bar and bar-on-bar experiments under uniaxial stress state and plate impact experiment under uniaxial strain state. To further validate the generality of the model parameters, modeling of a diagnostic ballistic experiment in which a steel projectile impacted a AD85 ceramic-front-faced thick aluminium plate, was considered. In this experiment, stress histories were measured in the target by embedded manganin and carbon stress gauges. The results from the numerical simulations of the ballistic experiment using a shock-wave propagation based finite element code, successfully matched the measured stress history.