AbstractThe steel–concrete hybrid girder bridge structure is a combination of steel and concrete members in the direction of the bridge length. In long-span segmental concrete box girder bridges, the utilization of lightweight steel girders in the middle portion of the main span would greatly reduce the bridge self-weight while decreasing concrete creep and shrinkage effects. A critical parameter in the design of hybrid girder bridges is the rational length of the steel portion as a part of the main span (in other words, the rational location of the steel–concrete connection). Based on the concept of system equivalence, the steel–concrete hybrid system is equivalent to a full-concrete system with a reasonable span arrangement. The governing condition of the equivalence is that both systems have the same magnitude of self-weight hogging bending moments over the piers. Applying the system equivalence method, the rational length ratio of the steel portion to the main span (ξ) is explicitly solved, and its relationship with the length ratio of side span to main span (λ) is established. Finally, the proposed analytical approach is validated by five case studies, indicating that it is an effective and efficient method for the preliminary design of hybrid girder bridges.