An experimental and numerical study has been carried out to investigate the strength of a pinned-joint carbon epoxy composite plate with [0degrees/45degrees/-45degrees/90degrees]s and [90degrees/45degrees/-45degrees/0degrees]s stacking configurations. The experiments were carried out according to the ASTM D953 standard [Standard Test method for Bearing Strength of Plastics, ASTM Designation, 342-346], and the numerical analyses were performed by the finite element method. The ratio of the edge distance to the pin diameter (E/D), and the ratio of the specimen width to the pin diameter (W/D) were systematically varied during analyses. The results from both analyses show firstly that the prepared specimen configurations give bearing mode, secondly that the [90degrees/45degrees/-45degrees/0degrees]s configuration is stronger when compared to [0degrees/45degrees/-45degrees/90degrees]s, and finally that both configurations reach their upper limit bearing strengths when E/D and W/D ratios are equal or greater than 4. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.