In case of RC members strengthened by means of externally bonded reinforcement, a premature failure can be detected in addition to the conventional modes of failure observed in RC unstrengthened beams. The premature failure occurs mainly due to both shear and normal stresses induced in either the external reinforcement-concrete interface or at the level of steel reinforcement. This research is part of a complete programme aiming to set up design formulae to predict the strength of CFRP strengthened beams, particularly when premature failure through laminates-end shear or concrete cover delamination occurs. Series of RC beams were strengthened with carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) laminates and tested to estimate the extent of the applicability of the formulae proposed by the authors, as well as to study the influence of the layout of the external reinforcement in terms of unsheeted length (the distance between CFRP laminates-end and the nearer support) and cross-sectional area, on the behaviour of strengthened beams. The predictions using the proposed formulae are compared with the obtained experimental results, as well as with the calculated design limit states. The interfacial shear stress and the maximum deflection corresponding to the predicted values at maximum and service loads are also studied. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.