Arched roofs are built more and more with roller bent wide flange sections, serving as structural elements. Roller bent wide flange sections are manufactured from straight hot-rolled wide flange sections by a process called roller bending. The material is cold worked during forming, inducing a new distribution of mechanical properties across the section which is different compared to its original state. For the design of arches the use of original or nominal strength properties of the straight material neglects the influence of the roller bending process. This may lead to conservative or nonconservative designs. This paper presents the results of an extensive experimental investigation of the mechanical properties of roller bent wide flange sections. It comprises tensile tests and compression tests on coupons taken from roller bent sections and their straight counterparts. The results show that the roller bending process alters the mechanical properties of the material non-uniformly over the cross-section. In this paper the experimental results are presented. In a companion paper the experimental results are used to arrive at a set of equations that yields different stress–strain curves for specific zones across the roller bent steel section.