A simplicial complex Δ is called$flag$if all minimal nonfaces of Δ have at most two elements. The following are proved: First, if Δ is a flag simplicial pseudomanifold of dimension$d$−1, then the graph of Δ (i) is (2$d$−2)-vertex-connected and (ii) has a subgraph which is a subdivision of the graph of the$d$-dimensional cross-polytope. Second, the$h$-vector of a flag simplicial homology sphere Δ of dimension$d$−1 is minimized when Δ is the boundary complex of the$d$-dimensional cross-polytope.