In this study life-cycle cost (LCC) assessment of structural frames is performed. Two different materials, reinforced concrete (RC) and reinforced engineered cementitious composites (ECC), with different response characteristics are used to model the frames. ECC is characterized by high tensile ductility and energy absorption and reduced crack widths when compared to conventional concrete. However, the material is more expensive than conventional concrete; therefore, in order to quantify the potential benefits that could be obtained by replacing concrete with ECC, the life-cycle performance is evaluated in an optimization framework. Three different structural frames are considered: an RC only frame, an ECC only frame and a multi-material (MX) frame in which ECC is selectively applied at the potential plastic hinge locations while the remainder of the frame is made of RC. The structural capacity and earthquake demand are evaluated using rigorous analysis methods to capitalize on different characteristics of concrete and ECC, and both aleatory and epistemic uncertainties are incorporated into the LCC formulation. It is found that both the initial and LCC of frames that use ECC are lower due to savings in material and labor cost of transverse reinforcement for the former and due to increased capacity and reduced demand for the latter. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.