The aim of this study is to assess the seismic performance of hollow reinforced concrete and prestressed concrete bridge columns, and to provide data for developing improved seismic design criteria. By using a sophisticated nonlinear finite element analysis program, the accuracy and objectivity of the assessment process can be enhanced. A computer program, RCAHEST (Reinforced Concrete Analysis in Higher Evaluation System Technology), is used to analyze reinforced concrete and prestressed concrete structures. Tensile, compressive and shear models of cracked concrete and models of reinforcing and prestressing steel were used to account for the material nonlinearity of reinforced concrete and prestressed concrete. The smeared crack approach was incorporated. The proposed numerical method for the seismic performance assessment of hollow reinforced concrete and prestressed concrete bridge columns is verified by comparing it with the reliable experimental results. Additionally, the studies and discussions presented in this investigation provide an insight into the key behavioral aspects of hollow reinforced concrete and prestressed concrete bridge columns.