Abstract A numerical model based on discrete elements has been developed which calculates the cyclic response of laterally loaded foundation piles. The soil behaviour is modeled with the so-called HYGADE-element. This element models the gap formation around the pile, the degradation of the soil strength and the backsliding of the soil into the gap. The friction between the pile and the gap walls and the plastic soil behaviour at larger depths can also be taken into account. Numerical verification of quasi-static and cyclic experiments confirm the validity of the model. The resulting program is of interest to designers of foundations and researchers on structure-foundation interaction.