The link between performance based fire safety design and risk assessment is outlined. Present risk assessment methods in areas outside fire safety engineering as well as some of the more important existing risk assessment studies of building fires are briefly reviewed. An attempt is made to link various risk assessment methods, such as the analytical, single scenario safety index ? method and the multi-scenario, event-tree evaluation approaches, to different levels of fire safety design. Uncertainties, sensitivity and importance are central issues in the utilization of risk assessment results. Methods of uncertainty analysis are summarized and linked to practical design formats. The paper concludes by demonstrating some available results and by summarizing some of the advantages and limitations of risk assessment in fire safety engineering.