This paper describes a stressed-skin diaphragm approach to the optimal design of the internal frame of a cold-formed steel portal framing system, in conjunction with the effect of semi-rigid joints. Both ultimate and serviceability limit states are considered. Wind load combinations are included. The designs are optimized using a real-coded niching genetic algorithm, in which both discrete and continuous decision variables are processed. For a building with two internal frames, it is shown that the material cost of the internal frame can be reduced by as much as 53%, compared with a design that ignores stressed-skin action.