The Doppler flow wave form and its derived measures such as the pulsatility index provide clinically important tools for the investigation of arterial disease. The typical shape of Doppler flow wave forms is physiologically known to be largely determined by both peripheral resistance and elastic properties of the arterial wall. In the present study we systematically investigate the influence of both vessel wall elasticity and peripheral resistance on the flow wave form obtained from a CFD-simulation of blood flow in the carotid bifurcation. Numerical results are compared to in vivo ultrasound measurements. The in vivo measurement provides a realistic geometry, local elasticities and an input flow wave form for the numerical experiment. Numerical and experimental results are compared at three different sites in the carotid branches. Peripheral resistance has a profoundly decreasing effect on velocities in the external carotid artery. If elasticity is taken into account, the computed peak systolic velocities are considerably lower and a more realistic smoothing of the flow wave form is found. Together, the results indicate that only if both vessel wall elasticity and positive peripheral resistance are taken into account, experimentally obtained Doppler flow wave forms can be reproduced numerically.