This paper investigates the shear strength of beams and one-way slabs without stirrups based on the opening of a critical shear crack. The shear-carrying mechanisms after the development of this crack are investigated. On this basis, a rational model is developed to estimate the shear strength of members without shear reinforcement. The proposed model is based on an estimate of the crack width in the critical shear region, taking also into account the roughness of the crack and the compressive strength of concrete. The proposed model is shown to properly describe a large set of available test data. A simplified method adopted by the Swiss code for structural concrete (SIA 262) is also introduced. Comparisons with other codes of practice are finally presented, with a highlight on the main differences between them.