Assessment of the seismic vulnerability of the building stock in the earthquake-prone Marmara region of Turkey is of growing importance since such information is needed for reliable estimation of the losses that possible future earthquakes are likely to induce. The outcome of such loss assessment exercises can be used in planning of urban/regional-scale earthquake protection strategies; this is a priority in Turkey, particularly following the destructive earthquakes of 1999. Considering the size of the building inventory, Istanbul and its surrounding area is a case for which it is not easy to determine the structural properties and characteristics of the building stock. In this paper, geometrical, functional and material properties of the building stock in the northern Marmara Region, particularly around Istanbul, have been investigated and evaluated for use in loss estimation models and other types of statistic- or probabi I ity- based studies. In order to do that, the existing reinforced concrete (RC) stock has been classified as 'compliant' or 'non-com pliant' buildings, dual (frame-wall) or frame structures and emergent or embedded-beam systems. In addition to the statistical parameters such as mean values, standard deviations, etc., probability density functions and their goodness-of-fit have also been investigated for all types of parameters. Functionalities such as purpose of use and floor area properties have been defined. Concrete properties of existing and recently constructed buildings and also characteristics of 220 and 420 MPa types of steel have been documented. Finally, the financial effects of retrofitting operations and damage repair have been investigated. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.