The shear capacity of masonry subjected to both monotonic and cyclic loading was experimentally studied in order to assess its potential seismic performance. The strength and deformation characteristics of both the masonry assembly and its components were studied. The performance of the masonry panels subjected to pre-compression and in-plane load was assessed both in relation to failure criteria postulated by previous investigations as well as the Euro Code (EC) provisions. The results were also assessed in terms of Performance Based Design (PBD). The results show that, by considering the results of testing the brick-mortar interface and of compressive and diagonal tests of masonry specimens, the performance of in-plane laterally loaded masonry walls under cyclic loading can be well predicted for brickwork made from stiffer mortars. The proposed model for evaluating the characteristic shear strength from EC6 using the partial safety factors according to the provisions of EC8 can accurately predict the design shear strength of the masonry derived from cyclic shear tests under different levels of pre-compression. However, for diagonally loaded walls under monotonic loading, the partial safety factors given by EC6 seem to be too severe. For wall specimens under cyclic loading, using the results from the splitting tensile tests of the masonry in conjunction with Turnsek's model gave a better prediction of the design shear strength. 26 refs.