Seismic performance of exterior beam–column subassemblages of reinforced concrete structure designed and detailed on the basis of the provisions of Eurocode and Indian Standards at different stages of their evolution is evaluated. Performance of the subassemblages designed and detailed according to the three different stages of codal evolution (gravity load design, ‘Nonductile’, and ‘Ductile’) is evaluated through analytical formulations and experimental investigations. In the ‘NonDuctile’ specimens, it has been observed that the shear distortion and degradation in stiffness and strength are significantly high. Performance of the ‘Ductile’ specimens based on Eurocode and Indian Standards is almost similar in terms of strength and stiffness degradation. Nevertheless, the specimen designed on the basis of Indian Standard shows higher energy dissipation at a given drift ratio. In the analytical study, shear and flexural failure of members of subassemblage and shear failure of the joint are considered as possible modes of failure of the beam–column subassemblage. For evaluating the shear strength of the joint region, a soften strut-and-tie model is used. Analytically obtained strengths based on the failure criteria of different components of the specimens have been first validated with experimental results and then used to determine the strength of the specimens. The investigation could indicate even the mode of failure at local level. It is utmost important to mention here that even the ductile specimens dissipate most of the energy through the development of damage in the joint region, which is neither desirable nor safe for the stability of whole structure. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.