AbstractSevere damage to steel bridge piers and steel rigid-frame piers starting from regions of abrupt change in cross section has been widely reported. Therefore, finding a simple and effective seismic retrofitting method for steel structural members with variable cross sections to improve their plastic deformation performance is currently an urgent concern. The objective of this study was to establish an effective seismic retrofitting method for H-section steel beams with abruptly variable cross sections using a carbon fiber–reinforced plastic (CFRP) sheet because of its outstanding properties such as light weight, high strength, and superior durability. Bending and bending-shear cyclic loading tests were conducted with two parameters, including the type of CFRP sheets, and whether or not polyurea putty was inserted between the CFRP sheet and steel beam. The test results indicate that the proposed retrofitting method using intermediate-modulus CFRP and polyurea putty increases the load-carrying capacity, ductility, energy dissipation capacity, and bending stiffness of H-section steel beams significantly without any failure. Further, by implementing finite-element (FE) analyses considering the actual cyclic plasticity properties of steel, anisotropic performance of the CFRP sheets, and nonlinear bond-slip properties of the polyurea putty layer, the cyclic loading test results were reproduced accurately. Moreover, in the cases in which the polyurea putty was applied, parametric FE analysis of the CFRP bonding method with and without creating a stepped length at the top of each CFRP sheet showed that the retrofitting method without the stepped length was similar in effectiveness to the method with the stepped length.