The effect of different structures configurations on the collision between adjacent planar RC building frames subjected to strong earthquakes is examined in this paper. Two 5-storey and two 8-storey frames, regular or with setbacks, are combined together to produce nine different pairs of adjacent RC structures. These pairs of buildings are subjected to six strong ground motions that are absolutely compatible with the design process. Various parameters are investigated such as maximum displacements, permanent displacements, members' ductility and internal forces and interstorey drift ratios. It is concluded that the effect of collision of adjacent frames seems to be unfavourable for most of the cases and, therefore, the structural pounding phenomenon is rather detrimental than beneficial. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.