In consideration of the important role that bridges play as transportation infrastructures, their safety, durability and serviceability have always been deeply concerned. Structural Health Monitoring Systems (SHMS) have been installed to many long-span bridges to provide bridge engineers with the information needed in making rational decisions for maintenance. However, SHMS also confronted bridge engineers with the challenge of efficient use of monitoring data. Thus, methodologies which are robust to random disturbance and sensitive to damage become a subject on which many researches in structural condition assessment concentrate. In this study, an innovative probabilistic approach for condition assessment of bridge structures was proposed on the basis of long-term strain monitoring on steel girder of a cable-stayed bridge. First, the methodology of damage detection in the vicinity of monitoring point using strain-based indices was investigated. Then, the composition of strain response of bridge under operational loads was analyzed. Thirdly, the influence of temperature and wind on strains was eliminated and thus strain fluctuation under vehicle loads is obtained. Finally, damage evolution assessment was carried out based on the statistical characteristics of rain-flow cycles derived from the strain fluctuation under vehicle loads. The research conducted indicates that the methodology proposed is qualified for structural condition assessment so far as the following respects are concerned: (a) capability of revealing structural deterioration; (b) immunity to the influence of environmental variation; (c) adaptability to the random characteristic exhibited by long-term monitoring data. Further examination of the applicability of the proposed methodology in aging bridge may provide a more convincing validation.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.