Most large seismogenic landslides are reactivations of preexisting landslides with basal shear zones in the residual strength condition. Residual shear strength often varies during rapid displacement, but the response of residual shear zones to seismic loading is largely unknown. We used a ring shear apparatus to perform simulated seismic loading tests, constant displacement rate tests, and tests during which shear stress was gradually varied on specimens from two landslides to improve understanding of coseismic landslide reactivation and to identify shear strength models valid for slow gravitational failure through rapid coseismic failure. The landslides we studied represent many along the Oregon, U.S., coast. Seismic loading tests resulted in (1) catastrophic failure involving unbounded displacement when stresses represented those for the existing landslides and (2) limited to unbounded displacement when stresses represented those for hypothetical dormant landslides, suggesting that coseismic landslide reactivation may be significant during future great earthquakes occurring near the Oregon Coast. Constant displacement rate tests indicated that shear strength decreased exponentially during the first few decimeters of displacement but increased logarithmically with increasing displacement rate when sheared at 0.001 cm s−1 or greater. Dynamic shear resistance estimated from shear strength models correlated well with stresses observed during seismic loading tests, indicating that displacement rate and amount primarily controlled failure characteristics. We developed a stress-based approach to estimate coseismic landslide displacement that utilizes the variable shear strength model. The approach produced results that compared favorably to observations made during seismic loading tests, indicating its utility for application to landslides.