This paper investigates the energy absorption characteristics of longitudinally grooved square tubes under axial compression by using explicit nonlinear finite element code LS-DYNA. The grooves are fabricated by stamping and the distributions of the effective plastic strain and the thickness variation from the stamping process are considered in the following crash analyses. From the simulation results, we find that when grooves are introduced on the sidewalls, the specific energy absorption of conventional tubes can be increased by up to 82.7% and the peak force can be reduced by up to 22.3%. The influences of several parameters, including the width of the tube, the length of the groove and the number of the grooves, are analyzed and the features of the deformation modes of grooved tubes are described. The introduction of groove is found to be an effective way to improve the crashworthiness of thin-walled structures. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.