A fully nonlinear, geometrically exact, finite strain rod model is derived from basic kinematical assumptions. The model incorporates shear distortion in bending and can take account of torsion warping. Rotation in 3D space is handled with the aid of the Euler-Rodrigues formula. The accomplished parametrization is simple and does not require update algorithms based on quaternions parameters. Weak and strong forms of the equilibrium equations are derived in terms of cross section strains and stresses, which are objective and suitable for constitutive description. As an example, an invariant linear elastic constitutive equation based on the small strain theory is presented. The attained formulation is very convenient for numerical procedures employing Galerkin projection like the finite element method and can be readily implemented in a finite element code. A mixed formulation of Hu-Washizu type is also derived, allowing for independent interpolation of the displacement, strain and stress fields within a finite element. An exact expression for the Fréchet derivative of the weak form of equilibrium is obtained in closed form, which is always symmetric for conservative loading, even far from an equilibrium state and is very helpful for numerical procedures like the Newton method as well as for stability and bifurcation analysis. Several numerical examples illustrate the usefulness of the formulation in the lateral stability analysis of spatial frames. These examples were computed with the code FENOMENA, which is under development at the Computational Mechanics Laboratory of the Escola Politécnica.