Buckling restrained braces (BRBs) are very effective in dissipating energy through stable tension–compression hysteretic cycles and have been successfully experimented in the seismic protection of buildings. Their behavior has been studied extensively in the last decades and today the level of performance guaranteed by these devices and the technological constrains that have to be fulfilled to optimize their behavior are well known. Furthermore, several companies in the world have developed their own BRBs and are now producing them. In spite of this, many seismic codes (for instance, the EuroCode 8) do not stipulate provisions for the design and construction of earthquake-resistant structures equipped with BRBs. This discourages the structural engineering community from using these devices and seriously limits their use in structural applications. In this paper a procedure for the seismic design of steel frames equipped with BRBs is proposed. Furthermore, the paper presents a numerical investigation aimed at validating this design procedure and proposing the value of the behavior factor q that should be used for this structural type. To this end, a set of frames with BRBs is first designed by means of several values of q. Then, the obtained frames are subjected to a set of accelerograms compatible with the elastic response spectrum considered in design. The seismic response of the frames is determined by nonlinear dynamic analysis and represented in terms of the ductility demand of BRBs and the internal force demand of nondissipative members (beams and columns). Finally, the largest value of q that leads to acceptable seismic performance of the analyzed frames is assumed as adequate. The value of q is given in the paper as a continuous function of the assumed ductility capacity of the BRBs. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.