In this paper, the problem of layout optimization for X-bracing of steel frames is studied using the ant system (AS). A new design method is employed to share the gravity and the lateral loads between the main frame and the bracings according to the requirements of the IBC2006 code. An algorithm is developed which is called optimum steel designer (OSD). An optimization method based on an approximate analysis is also developed for layout optimization of braced frames. This method is called the approximate optimum steel designer (AOSD) and uses a simple deterministic optimization algorithm leading to the optimum patterns and it is much faster than the OSD. Several numerical examples are treated by the proposed methods. Efficiency and accuracy of the methods are then discussed. A comparison is also made with Genetic algorithm for one of the frames.