Most analytical or semi-analytical solutions of the problem of load-settlement response of axially loaded piles are based on the assumption of zero radial displacement. These solutions also are only applicable to piles embedded in either a homogeneous or a Gibson soil deposit. In reality, soil deposits consist of multiple soil layers with different properties, and displacements in the radial direction within the soil deposit are not zero when the pile is loaded axially. In this paper, we present a load-settlement analysis applicable to a pile with circular cross section installed in multilayered elastic soil that accounts for both vertical and radial soil displacements. The analysis follows from the solution of the differential equations governing the displacements of the pile–soil system obtained using variational principles. The input parameters needed for the analysis are the pile geometry and the elastic constants of the soil and pile. We compare the results from the present analysis with those of an analytical solution that considers only vertical soil displacements. The analysis presented in this paper also provides useful insights into the displacement and strain fields around axially loaded piles. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.