This paper presents a technique for identification of non-linear hysteretic systems subjected to non-stationary loading. In the numerical simulations, a Bouc-Wen model was chosen for its ability to represent the properties of a wide class of real hysteretic systems. The parameters of the model are computed instantaneously by approximating the internal restoring force surface through an “ad hoc” polynomial basis. Instantaneous estimates result from time-varying spectra of the response signals. A numerical application of interest to earthquake engineering is finally reported.