INTRODUCTION Fractured rotary nickel-titanium (NiTi) instruments have been classified into those that fail as a result of cyclic flexural fatigue or torsional failure or a combination of both. Clinically, NiTi rotary instruments are subjected to both torsional load and cyclic fatigue, and ongoing research aims to clarify the relative contributions of both factors to instrument separation. METHODS To date, there is no specification or international standard to test cyclic fatigue resistance of endodontic rotary instruments. As a consequence, several devices and methods have been used to investigate in vitro cyclic fatigue fracture resistance of NiTi rotary endodontic instruments. In nearly all studies reported in the endodontic literature, the rotating instrument was either confined in a glass or metal tube, in a grooved block-and-rod assembly, or in a sloped metal block. RESULTS There has been no mention of the "fit" of the instrument in the tube or groove. As the instrument is likely to be fitting loosely, the description of the radius of curvature in those studies is likely to be overstated (ie, the file was actually bent less severely than reported, adding a variability in the amount of flexural stress). CONCLUSIONS This review analyzed several devices that have been used in endodontic literature for cyclic fatigue testing and found that differences in the methodology affected the fatigue behavior of rotary instruments and, consequently, the outcome of these studies. An international standard for cyclic fatigue testing of NiTi rotary instruments is required to ensure uniformity of methodology and comparable results.