We study the influence of ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic bond defects on the ground-state energy of antiferromagnetic spin chains. In the absence of translational invariance, the energy spectrum of the full Hamiltonian is obtained numerically, by an iterative modi. cation of the power algorithm. In parallel, approximate analytical energies are obtained from a local-bond approximation, proposed here. This approximation results in significant improvement upon the mean-field approximation, at negligible extra computational effort. (C) 2008 Published by Elsevier B.V.