This study is concerned with the strength limit state of serial bolted connections in structural steel plates. It points out that the ultimate load capacity of a serial bolted connection failing in combined bearing and shear-out cannot be computed as the simple sum of the respective ultimate bearing and ultimate shear-out capacities, which is implicitly permitted in design specifications worldwide. Based on the laboratory test results of 10 hot-rolled steel plate specimens composed of three different grades with nominal thicknesses ranging from 5 to 8 mm, the paper first establishes the ultimate bearing coefficient of a 20-mm bolted connection in a structural steel plate to be 3.5. Coupled with the shear-out equation previously derived, a design equation where the shear-out capacity of the downstream bolt varying quadratically with the end distance is then proposed to determine the combined bearing and shear-out capacity. The proposed equation is demonstrated through verification against independent laboratory test results involving 5-mm plates of three different grades to be significantly more accurate than the simple sum. Explanation for the unexplained results obtained by another researcher using his own equation is provided in this paper.