Abstract Effects of inertial and kinematic forces on pile stresses are studied based on large shaking table tests on pile-structure models with a foundation embedded in dry and liquefiable sand deposits. The test results show that, if the natural period of the superstructure, T b, is less than that of the ground, T g, the ground displacement tends to be in phase with the inertial force from the superstructure, increasing the shear force transmitted to the pile. In contrast, if T b is greater than T g, the ground displacement tends to be out of phase with the inertial force, restraining the pile stress from increasing. With the effects of earth pressures on the embedded foundation and pile incorporated in, pseudo-static analysis is conducted to estimate maximum moment distribution in pile. It is assumed that the maximum moment is equal to the sum of the two stresses caused by the inertial and kinematic effects if T b< T g or the square root of the sum of the squares of the two if T b> T g. The estimated pile stresses are in good agreement with the observed ones regardless of the occurrence of soil liquefaction.