The investigation of adhesive butt joints using the finite element method of solution indicates a variation of stresses through the thickness of the adhesive in contrast to the existing analyses which assume zero stress variation. Both plane stress and axisymmetric cases have been investigated and the effect of adhesive modulus and thickness on the stress distribution have been considered. It has been shown that there is significant variation of normal and shear stresses across the adhesive thickness especially at the adhesive-air interface. © 1976, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. All rights reserved.