Abstract This paper describes the behaviour under cyclic shear compression of an innovative reinforced masonry system, composed of horizontally perforated units, having common steel bars or prefabricated trusses as horizontal reinforcement. At the wall edges or crossings, confining columns for vertical reinforcement are built with vertically perforated units. Experimental tests to obtain information on the in-plane cyclic behaviour of the construction system were performed on masonry panels made of horizontally perforated units and on completed reinforced masonry walls. Tests on the entire system were repeated for two wall aspect ratios and two vertical stress levels, in order to force shear type and flexural behaviour. In particular, this paper presents: (a) results of shear compression tests in terms of strength, ductility parameters, energy dissipation, viscous damping and stiffness degradation, (b) strains and the effectiveness of reinforcement, (c) the influence of various parameters such as axial load, aspect ratio, and reinforcement type on the behaviour of the reinforced masonry walls, and (d) comparison of walls built with and without vertical reinforcement.