The development of a bending theory of composite spherical shells subjected to axisymmetric edge-loads is attempted. The theory is developed for a certain class of laminated shells; namely, balanced-symmetric laminates. An example problem with uniform edge loads alone is solved to demonstrate the nonuniformity of stresses throughout the cross section, and the effect of anisotropy. The solution obtained in series form, with the help of an algorithm designed for accelerating the convergence of the series, is shown to be dependent on the ratio of the hoop to meridional bending stiffnesses. The stress and moment distributions are shown for the case when the cut edge is near the equator, and away from the equator. Copyright (C) 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd.