Arterial restenosis following stent deployment may be influenced by the local flow environment within and around the stent. We have used computational fluid dynamics to investigate the flow field in the vicinity of model stents positioned within straight and curved vessels. Our simulations have revealed the presence of flow separation and recirculation immediately downstream of stents. In steady flow within straight vessels, the extent of flow disturbance downstream of the stent increases with both Reynolds number and stent wire thickness but is relatively insensitive to stent interwire spacing. In curved vessels, flow disturbance downstream of the stent occurs along both the inner and outer vessel walls with the extent of disturbance dependent on the angle of vessel curvature. In pulsatile flow, the regions of flow disturbance periodically increase and decrease in size. Non-Newtonian fluid properties lead to a modest reduction in flow disturbance downstream of the stent. In more realistic stent geometries such as stents modeled as spirals or as intertwined rings, the nature of stent-induced flow disturbance is exquisitely sensitive to stent design. These results provide an understanding of the flow physics in the vicinity of stents and suggest strategies for stent design optimization to minimize flow disturbance.