This paper describes the behaviour of restrained steel columns in fire. It follows the introduction of extra load into the column through the axial restraint of the surrounding cooler structure and the consequential buckling. Key to this understanding is the post-failure behaviour and re-stabilisation of the column, which is discussed with reference to a finite element model and an analytical model. Through bi-directional control of the temperature, the finite element model allows the snap-back behaviour to be modelled in detail and the effects of varying slenderness and load ratio are investigated. The analytical model employs structural mechanics to describe the behaviour of a heated strut, and is capable of explaining both elastic and fully plastic post-buckling behaviour. Through this detailed explanation of what happens when a heated column buckles, the consequences for steel-framed building design are discussed. In particular, the need to provide robustness is highlighted, in order to ensure that alternative load paths are available once a column has buckled and re-stabilised. Without this robustness, the dynamic shedding of load onto surrounding structures may well spread failure from a fire's origin and lead to progressive collapse.