This study focuses on the seismic safety evaluation of masonry buildings in Turkey for in-plane failure modes using fragility curves. Masonry buildings are classified and a set of fragility curves are generated for each class. The major structural parameters in the classification of masonry buildings are considered as the number of stories, load-bearing wall material, regularity in plan and the arrangement of walls (required length, openings in walls, etc.), in accordance with the observations from previous earthquakes and field databases. The fragility curves are generated by using time history (for demand) and pushover (for capacity) analyses. From the generated sets of fragility curves, it is observed that the damage state probabilities are significantly influenced from the number of stories and wall material strength. In the second stage of the study, the generated fragility curves are employed to estimate the damage of masonry buildings in Dinar after the 1995 earthquake. The estimated damage by fragility information is compared with the inspected visual damage as assessed from the Damage Evaluation Form. For the quantification of fragility-based damage, a single-valued index, named as 'vulnerability score' (VS), is proposed. There seems to be a fair agreement between the two damage measures. In addition to this, decisions regarding the repair or demolition of masonry buildings in Dinar due to visual damage inspection are on comparable grounds with the relative measure obtained from VS of the same buildings. Hence, the fragility-based procedure can provide an alternative for the seismic safety evaluation of masonry buildings in Turkey. Copyright (C) 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.