Elastic instability is often the limiting factor in the design of thin-walled structural components, accentuated by the imperfections typical of real structures. Smart structures have the potential to use piezoelectric or shape memory materials to actively generate stabilizing internal forces. These smart materials can be made into in-plane actuator layers and added to both surfaces of the structure to generate bending couples. In spite of the interest in smart structures, the potential of active tailoring and control of buckling has received scant attention. This paper examines the capacity of such actuator layer pairs to change the compression buckling loads of thin structures by interfering with the development of incipient buckling mode shapes. Amo del is formulated that idealizes the actuator layers as nonlinear springs that impede or promote out-of-plane bending until a saturation bending moment is reached. Acommercial finite element software package is used to solve the resulting non-linear equilibrium equations for a selection of materials, geometries, and structure sizes, to investigate the sensitivities of the buckling suppression effect. Overall the results show that smart laminates can actively interact with their instabilities and minimize the effect of imperfections. Although substantial gains in buckling load can be achieved in some cases, the relative effectiveness of active stabilization control is strongly dependent on the characteristics of structure, sensors and actuators.