Tortuous arteries are often associated with aging, hypertension, atherosclerosis, and degenerative vascular diseases, but the mechanisms are poorly understood. Our recent theoretical analysis suggested that mechanical instability (buckling) may lead to tortuous blood vessels. The objectives of this study were to determine the critical pressure of artery buckling and the effects of elastin degradation and surrounding matrix support on the mechanical stability of arteries. The mechanical properties and critical buckling pressures, at which arteries become unstable and deform into tortuous shapes, were determined for a group of five normal arteries using pressurized inflation and buckling tests. Another group of nine porcine arteries were treated with elastase (8 U/ml), and the mechanical stiffness and critical pressure were obtained before and after treatment. The effect of surrounding tissue support was simulated using a gelatin gel. The critical pressures of the five normal arteries were 9.52 kPa (SD 1.53) and 17.10 kPa (SD 5.11) at axial stretch ratios of 1.3 and 1.5, respectively, while model predicted critical pressures were 10.11 kPa (SD 3.12) and 17.86 kPa (SD 5.21), respectively. Elastase treatment significantly reduced the critical buckling pressure (P < 0.01). Arteries with surrounding matrix support buckled into multiple waves at a higher critical pressure. We concluded that artery buckling under luminal pressure can be predicted by a buckling equation. Elastin degradation weakens the arterial wall and reduces the critical pressure, which thus leads to tortuous vessels. These results shed light on the mechanisms of the development of tortuous vessels due to elastin deficiency.