In this paper, an experimental study regarding the determination of the safe as well as the maximum bearing strengths of a pinned-joint carbon epoxy composite laminate with [0degrees/45degrees/-45degrees/90degrees]s and [90degrees/45degrees/-45degrees/0degrees]s stacking sequences is presented. The experiments are carried out according to the ASTM D953 standard. The ratio of the distance from the pin centre to the top edge to the pin diameter (E/D), and the ratio of the specimen width to the pin diameter (W/D) were systematically varied during experiments. The [90degrees/45degrees/-45degrees/Odegrees]s orientation is found to be stronger when compared to [0degrees/45degrees/-45degrees/90]s by up to 12% and 20% in terms of the safe and maximum bearing strengths, respectively. Additionally, for E/D greater than or equal to 4 and W/D greater than or equal to 4, both configurations reach their upper limit safe and maximum bearing strengths. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.