Gravity loads can affect a reinforced concrete structure’s response to seismic actions, however, traditional procedures for testing the beam behaviour do not take this effect into consideration. An experimental campaign was carried out in order to assess the influence of the gravity load on RC beam connection to the column subjected to cyclic loading. The experiments included the imposition of a conventional quasi-static test protocol based on the imposition of a reverse cyclic displacement history and of an alternative cyclic test procedure starting from the gravity load effects. The test results are presented, compared and analysed in this paper. The imposition of a cyclic test procedure that included the gravity loads effects on the RC beam ends reproduces the demands on the beams’ critical zones more realistically than the traditional procedure. The consideration of the vertical load effects in the test procedure led to an accumulation of negative (hogging) deformation. This phenomenon is sustained with the behaviour of a portal frame system under cyclic loads subject to a significant level of the vertical load, leading to the formation of unidirectional plastic hinges. In addition, the hysteretic behaviour of the RC beam ends tested was simulated numerically using the nonlinear structural analysis software – OpenSees. The beam–column model simulates the global element behaviour very well, as there is a reasonable approximation to the hysteretic loops obtained experimentally.