There has been a notable debate in the banking literature on the impact of bank competition on financial stability. The aim of this article is to provide the first investigation of the role of bank competition on the occurrence of bank failures. We analyse this issue on a large sample of Russian banks for the period 2001–2007, as the Russian banking industry is a unique example of an emerging market which has undergone a large number of bank failures during the last decade. Our findings support the view that tighter bank competition enhances the occurrence of bank failures. Thus, measures that increase bank competition could undermine financial stability.