A large number of low and medium-rise buildings have moment-resisting steel frames as the primary lateral load resisting system. This type of structural system has been considered to be one of the most effective means for resisting strong seismic ground motions. This paper presents the results of an investigation into the performance which can be expected when code designed ductile moment-resisting steel frame buildings having ductile connections, designed for different seismic hazard levels, are subjected to excitation by strong seismic ground motions. Design variations at different seismic hazard levels include three design philosophies, namely strong-column weak-beam, weak-column strong-beam and strong-column weak panel zone. The analytical model used in the study takes into account both connection flexibility and panel zone shear deformation. Results show that the performance arising from a specific design philosophy may be acceptable in one seismic hazard region, while being unacceptable in a region having a different seismic hazard level.