[en] Aims. We present a spectroscopic analysis of four massive binary systems that are known or are good candidates to display the Struve-Sahade effect (defined as the apparent strengthening of the secondary spectrum of the binary when the star is approaching, and the corresponding weakening of the lines when it is receding). Methods. We use high resolution optical spectra to determine new orbital solutions and spectral types of HD 165 052, HD 100 213, HD 159 176 and DH Cep. As good knowledge of the fundamental parameters of the considered systems is necessary to examine the Struve-Sahade effect. We then study equivalent width variations in the lines of both components of these binaries during their orbital cycle. Results. In the case of these four systems, variations appear in the equivalent widths of some lines during the orbital cycle, but the definition given above can any longer be valid, since it is now clear that the effect modifies the primary spectrum as much as the secondary spectrum. Furthermore, the lines affected, and the way in which they are affected, depend on the considered system. For at least two of them (HD 100 213 and HD 159 176) these variations probably reflect the ellipsoidal variable nature of the system.