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Plastic deformations in beams caused by symmetric dynamic loads distributed over finite lengths are considered in this paper. The analysis is based on the assumption of ``plastic‐rigid'' behavior, so that the results should be valid when plastic deformations are sufficiently large. The final deformations for distributed loads are found not to differ much qualitatively from those to be expected for concentrated loads. However, the magnitude of the deformation decreases rapidly as the length of the loaded area increases from zero, for given load pulses. Thus the simplifying assumption of a mathematically concentrated load may cause a considerable overestimate of the final deformation.