The 1999 Chi-Chi, Taiwan, earthquake triggered numerous landslides throughout a large area in the Central Range, to the east, southeast, and south of the fault rupture. Among them are two large rock avalanches, at Tsaoling and at Jih-Feng-Erh-Shan. At Jih-Feng-Erh-Shan, the entire thickness (30-50 m) of the Miocene Changhukeng Shale over an area of 1 km2 slid down its bedding plane for a distance of about 1 km. Initial movement of the landslide was nearly purely translational. We investigate the effect of surface-normal acceleration on the initiation of the Jih-Feng-Erh-Shan landslide using a block slide model. We show that this acceleration, currently not considered by dynamic slope-stability analysis methods, significantly influences the initiation of the landslide.