Abstract The objective of this paper is to investigate the influence of initial cracking on the punching shear behavior of reinforced concrete slabs. For this purpose, a series of punching tests has been conducted at the University of Southern Denmark. The slabs were quadratic with span of 1050 mm. Slab thickness was 150 mm. The initial crack patterns were created by mechanical tension, uniaxial as well as biaxial. The slabs were pre-cracked up to 0.55 mm. After cracking and prior to punching testing, the axial loads were removed. The obtained test results show no significant strength reduction compared to the strength of initially uncracked slabs. This indicates that as far as punching strength is concerned, no precaution needs to be taken for slabs suffering axial cracking.