This paper deals with the effect of geometric changes of mild stenoses on large-scale flow disturbances in the carotid artery bifurcation. Hydrogen-bubble visualisation experiments have been performed in Plexiglas models of a non-stenosed and a 25% stenosed carotid artery bifurcation. The flow conditions approximate physiological flow. The experiments show that shortly after the onset of the diastolic phase vortex formation occurs in the plane of symmetry. This vortex formation is found in a shear layer, which is formed in the carotid sinus. The shear layer is located between a region with low shear rates at the non-divider wall and a region with high shear rates at the divider wall. In order to gain insight into the parameters that are important with respect to the stability of the shear layer, experiments have been performed in which the influence of the shape of the flow pulse, the Reynolds number (Re), the Womersley parameter (a) and the flow division ratio (¿) on the flow phenomena is studied. From these experiments it appears that the flow phenomena in the carotid artery bifurcation are significantly influenced by Re, a the systolic acceleration (sa) and deceleration (sd) and the duration of the peak-systolic flow (Tmax). With these results a simplified flow pulse is chosen, with which the experiments in the non-stenosed and the 25% stenosed bifurcation are performed. Comparison of the hydrogen-bubble profiles in the 0 and 25% stenosed models with similar flow conditions shows that the geometric change of the 25% stenosis only slightly influences the flow phenomena. The most striking influences are found in the stability of the shear layer. Quantitative experiments by means of laser Doppler anemometry measurements and numerical computations are needed to analyse the influence of the stenosis of the flow field more accurately.