This article presents a method for the nonlinear analysis of laterally loaded rigid piles in cohesive soil. The method considers the force and the moment equilibrium to derive the system equations for a rigid pile under a lateral eccentric load. The system equations are then solved using an iteration scheme to obtain the response of the pile. The method considers the nonlinear variation of the ultimate lateral soil resistance with depth and uses a new closed-form expression proposed in this article to determine the lateral bearing factor. The method also considers the horizontal shear resistance at the pile base, and a bilinear relationship between the shear resistance and the displacement is used. For simplicity, the modulus of horizontal subgrade reaction is assumed to be constant with depth, which is applicable to piles in overconsolidated clay. The nonlinearity of the modulus of horizontal subgrade reaction with pile displacement at ground surface is also considered. The validity of the developed method is demonstrated by comparing its results with those of 3D finite element analysis. The applications of the developed method to analyze five field test piles also show good agreement between the predictions and the experimental results. The developed method offers an alternative approach for simple and effective analysis of laterally loaded rigid piles in cohesive soil. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.