In this work the use of large eddy simulations (LES) in numerical simulations of the gas–liquid flow in bubble columns is studied. The Euler–Euler approach is used to describe the equations of motion of the two-phase flow. It is found that, when the drag, lift and virtual mass forces are used, the transient behaviour that was observed in experiments can be captured. Good quantitative agreement with experimental data is obtained both for the mean velocities and the fluctuating velocities. The LES shows better agreement with the experimental data than simulations using the k–var epsilon model.