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In order to improve the accuracy of damage detection result and increase the computational efficiency, a new method for structural damage detection based on the perturbation of frequency and improved residual force vector (IRFV) was studied. The equation of structural damage identification based on the changes of frequency was derived from matrix perturbation theory. And the differences of residual force vector were calculated between damaged and original structure with the same order to form IRFV which was sensitive to damaged elements. The possible damage location was obtained by IRFV preliminarily. Then the damage extent was calculated from the perturbation of frequency which was tested more accurately. The examples prove that the proposed method is efficient and precise for damage detection.