'Stepped building' frames, with vertical geometric irregularity, are now increasingly encountered in modern urban constructions. This paper proposes a new approach to determine the lateral load pattern, considering the contributions from the higher modes, suitable for pushover analysis of stepped buildings. Also, a modification to the displacement coefficient method of ASCE/SEI 41-13 is proposed, based on nonlinear time history analysis of 78 stepped frames. When the newly proposed load pattern is combined with the modified displacement coefficient method, the target displacement for the stepped building frame is found to match consistently the displacement demand given by the time history analysis. © 2016 Techno-Press, Ltd.