Lumped-parameter models (zero-dimensional) and wave-propagation models (one-dimensional) for pressure and flow in large vessels, as well as fully three-dimensional fluid–structure interaction models for pressure and velocity, can contribute valuably to answering physiological and patho-physiological questions that arise in the diagnostics and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Lumped-parameter models are of importance mainly for the modelling of the complete cardiovascular system but provide little detail on local pressure and flow wave phenomena. Fully three-dimensional fluid–structure interaction models consume a large amount of computer time and must be provided with suitable boundary conditions that are often not known. One-dimensional wave-propagation models in the frequency and time domain are well suited to obtaining clinically relevant information on local pressure and flow waves travelling through the arterial system. They can also be used to provide boundary conditions for fully three-dimensional models, provided that they are defined in, or transferred to, the time domain. Most of the one-dimensional wave propagation models in the time domain described in the literature assume velocity profiles and therefore frictional forces to be in phase with the flow, whereas from exact solutions in the frequency domain a phase difference between the flow and the wall shear stress is known to exist. In this study an approximate velocity profile function more suitable for one-dimensional wave propagation is introduced and evaluated. It will be shown that this profile function provides first-order approximations for the wall shear stress and the nonlinear term in the momentum equation, as a function of local flow and pressure gradient in the time domain. The convective term as well as the approximate friction term are compared to their counterparts obtained from Womersley profiles and show good agreement in the complete range of the Womersley parameter a. In the limiting cases, for Womersley parameters a ¿ 0 and a ¿ 8, they completely coincide. It is shown that in one-dimensional wave propagation, the friction term based on the newly introduced approximate profile function is important when considering pressure and flow wave propagation in intermediate-sized vessels.