Analytical studies on the effect of depth of beam and several parameters on the shear strength of reinforced concrete beams are reported. A large data base available has been segregated and a nonlinear regression analysis (NLRA) has been performed for developing the refined design models for both, the cracking and the ultimate shear strengths of reinforced concrete (RC) beams without web reinforcement. The shear strength of RC beams is size dependent, which needs to be evaluated and incorporated in the appropriate size effect models. The proposed models are functions of compressive strength of concrete, percentage of flexural reinforcement and depth of beam. The structural brittleness of large size beams seems to be severe compared with highly ductile small size beams at a given quantity of flexural reinforcement. The proposed models have been validated with the existing popular models as well as with the design code provisions. © 2011 Indian Academy of Sciences.