This paper presents an analytical model for the inelastic response analysis of braced steel structures. A model is first presented for the behaviour of steel struts subjected to cyclic axial load, which combines the analytical formulation of plastic hinge behaviour with empirical formulas developed on the basis of experimental data. The brace is modelled as a pin-ended member, with a plastic hinge located at the midspan. Braces, with other end conditions, are handled using the effective length concept. Step-wise regression analysis is employed, to approximate the plastic conditions for the steel UC section. Verification of the brace model is performed on the basis of quasi-static analyses of individual struts and a one-bay one-storey X-braced steel frame. The comparison of analytical and experimental data has confirmed that the proposed brace model is able to accurately simulate the cyclic inelastic behaviour of steel braces and braced systems. A series of dynamic analyses has been performed on two-storey V- and X-braced frames to study the influence of brace slenderness ratio on the inelastic response, and to look at the redistribution of forces in the post-buckling range of behaviour of CBFs. Recommendations have been made as to the estimation of maximum storey drifts for concentrically-braced steel frames in major seismic event. © 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.