AbstractRebar cages are commonly used in reinforced concrete constructions. These cages consist of longitudinal and transverse reinforcing bars usually connected by tie wires. Numerous incidents of rebar cage failure and collapse have been reported at construction sites, often leading to injuries, fatalities, construction schedule delays, and added costs. Using mechanical connectors such as U-bolts instead of tie wires can improve stability and strength of rebar cages. This paper aims to investigate the mechanical behavior of U-bolt connections through experimental tests and to explore the potential application to rebar cages through analytical models. Experiments were conducted on U-bolt connectors to determine the force-deformation response behavior in different degrees of freedom and for different rebar conditions. Then, the data obtained from a previously completed experimental study on a full-scale tie-wired rebar cage were used to develop and calibrate a nonlinear finite-element model of the test specimen. The force-deformation response of U-bolt connections was then included in the model, replacing the tie wires, to investigate the effect of mechanical connectors on the lateral stiffness and strength of the rebar cage. The results showed that application of mechanical connectors for cross-bar connections in the rebar cages can increase the lateral strength of rebar cages, rendering U-bolt connectors as a potential solution to improve stability and safety of rebar cages.