The reactive hyperemia test (RHtest) evokes a transient increase in shear stress as a stimulus for endothelial-dependent flow-mediated vasodilation (EDFMD). We developed a noninvasive method to create controlled elevations in brachial artery (BA) shear rate (SR, estimate of shear stress), controlled hyperemia test (CHtest), and assessed the impact of this vs. the RHtest approach on EDFMD. Eight healthy subjects participated in two trials of each test on 3 separate days. For the CHtest, SR was step increased from 8 to 50 s(-1), created by controlled release of BA compression during forearm heating. For the RHtest, transient increases in SR were achieved after 5 min of forearm occlusion. BA diameter and blood flow velocity (ultrasound) were measured upstream of compression and occlusion sites. Both tests elicited significant dilation (RHtest: 6.33 +/- 3.12%; CHtest: 3.00 +/- 1.05%). The CHtest resulted in 1) reduced between-subject SR and EDFMD variability vs. the RHtest [SR coefficient of variation (CV): 4.9% vs. 36.6%; EDFMD CV: 36.16% vs. 51.80%] and 2) virtual elimination of the impact of BA diameter on the peak EDFMD response (peak EDFMD vs. baseline diameter for RHtest, r(2) = 0.64, P < 0.01, vs. CHtest, r(2) = 0.14, P < 0.01). Normalization of the RHtest EDFMD response to the magnitude of the SR stimulus eliminated test differences in between-subject response variability. Reductions in trial-to-trial and day-to-day SR variability with the CHtest did not reduce EDFMD variability. Between-subject SR variability contributes to EDFMD variability with the RHtest. SR controls with the CHtest or RHtest response normalization are essential for examining EDFMD between groups differing in baseline arterial diameter.