Research on the seismically induced dynamic lateral earth pressures acting on basement walls has reappeared in the literature to examine the apparent inconsistency between the theoretical pressures and the wall good performance during large earthquakes. In this paper, 2-D plane strain finite element models of 2-level to 4-level basements were used to examine this problem. The seismic ground motions were acceleration records from Kobe and Loma Prieta earthquakes. The assumed soil profile was a sands deposit overlying a reflecting bedrock layer. The observed time history outputs were the wall lateral acceleration and the lateral earth pressures. The outputs were examined further to evaluate the acceleration amplification factors, the pattern of wall acceleration and lateral earth pressure, and the influence of limiting soil tensile strength. Some highlighted observations are provided, and the complex interaction could not be represented by simple peak acceleration – earth pressure relationships currently typically recommended.