Recently proposed changes to modeling and acceptance criteria in seismic regulations for both flexure and shear dominated reinforced concrete structural walls suggest that a comprehensive examination is required for improved limit state definitions and their corresponding values. This study utilizes nonlinear finite element analysis to investigate the deformation measures defined in terms of plastic rotations and local concrete and steel strains at the extreme fiber of rectangular structural walls. Response of finite elements models were calculated by pushover analysis. We compare requirements in ASCE/SEI 41, Eurocode 8 (EC8-3) and the Turkish Seismic Code (TSC-07). It is concluded that the performance limits must be refined by introducing additional parameters. ASCE/SEI 41 limits are observed to be the most accurate yielding conservative results at all levels except low axial load levels. It is shown that neither EC8-3 nor TSC-07 specifies consistent deformation limits. TSC-07 suggests unconservative limits at all performance levels, and it appears to fall short of capturing the variation reflected in the calculated values. Likewise EC8-3 seems to fail to represent the variation in plastic rotation in contrast to several parameters employed in the calculation. More accurate plastic rotation limits are proposed. (c) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.