Emerging performance-based earthquake engineering (PBEE) methods provide a rigorous framework to evaluate the performance of structures, taking into account the significant uncertainties inherent to seismic assessment. This paper and the following companion paper present selected results from a recent study conducted through the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center to apply such methods to benchmark the performance of reinforced concrete moment frame buildings designed per current (2003) United States building code provisions. This paper focuses on ground motion selection and structural collapse prediction. We present how Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis results are utilized to characterize the site hazard, specify target spectral acceleration values, and provide pertinent information for ground motion record selection. This paper illustrates that selection based solely on earthquake magnitude and distance may not be sufficient and can lead to conservative predictions of structural performance (e.g., collapse risk). To provide a robust estimate of collapse capacity, the suite of selected ground motions is used in concert with structural analyses that are based on calibrated element models.