BACKGROUND Prosthetic heart valves can be associated to mechanical loading of blood, potentially linked to complications (hemolysis and thrombogenicity) which can be clinically relevant. In order to test such devices in pulsatile mode, pulse duplicators (PDs) have been designed and built according to different concepts. This study was carried out to compare anemometric measurements made on the same prosthetic device, with two widely used PDs. METHODS The valve (a 27-mm bileaflet valve) was mounted in the aortic section of the PD. The Sheffield University PD and the RWTH Aachen PD were selected as physical models of the circulation. These two PDs differ mainly in the vertical vs horizontal realization, and in the ventricular section, which in the RWTH PD allows for storage of potential energy in the elastic walls of the ventricle. A glassblown aorta, realized according to the geometric data of the same anatomical district in healthy individuals, was positioned downstream of the valve, obtaining 1:1 geometric similarity conditions. A NaI-glycerol-water solution of suitable kinematic viscosity and, at the same time, the proper refractive index, was selected. The flow field downstream of the valve was measured by means of the stereo-PIV (Particle Image Velocimetry) technique, capable of providing the complete 3D velocity field as well as the entire Reynolds stress tensor. The measurements were carried out at the plane intersecting the valve axis. RESULTS A three-jet profile was clearly found in the plane crossing the leaflets, with both PDs. The extent of the typical recirculation zone in the Valsalva sinus was much larger in the RWTH PD, on account of the different duration of the swirling motion in the ventricular chamber, caused by the elasticity of the ventricle and its geometry. CONCLUSION The comparison of the hemodynamical behaviour of the same bileaflet valve tested in two PDs demonstrated the role of the mock loop in affecting the valve performance.