Soil nailing has been widely used during the last two decades, to stabilize steep excavated slopes in several countries. In this study, the discrete element method (DEM) has been applied to evaluate the stability of reinforced slopes. This method is capable of not only estimating tensile and shear stresses mobilized in nails but also providing individual safety factors for soil and nails. It has been assumed that the nailed slope is composed of slices connected together with elastoplastic Winkler springs. In replacing nails by spring elements, a function is proposed for evaluating shear and tensile forces in nails which are induced by relative displacements between nail and adjacent soil. Taking into account for the sequence of construction, the developed method can predict the measured tensile forces in nails and hence it properly evaluates both focal and overall stabilities of the reinforced slope. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science Ltd.