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The behaviour of brick masonry shear walls has been investigated over many years. Their strength is usually defined in terms of the average shear and normal stresses on the bed joints, regardless of the testing techniques adopted. This paper presents an analytical approach predicting the failure of shear walls using a biaxial stress failure criterion developed from tests on brickwork panels. A computer model is used, which reproduces the non-linear behaviour of masonry produced by progressive cracking. The theoretical results are compared with experimental tests performed on shear wall panels subjected to combined compression and racking load. The influence of test method on the ‘masonry’ shear strength is discussed. W. Samarasinghe, A.W. Page and Professor A.W. Hendry