The influence of non-Newtonian rheology on wall shear rate in steady and oscillatory flow through rigid curved and straight artery models was studied experimentally. Wall shear rates measured by flush mounted hot film anemometry under nearly identical flow conditions are reported for the following four fluids: aqueous glycerin (Newtonian), aqueous polyacrylamide (shear thinning, highly elastic), aqueous Xanthan gum (shear thinning, moderately elastic), and bovine blood. For steady flow conditions there was little difference at any measurement site in the wall shear rate levels measured for the four fluids. However, large differences were apparent for oscillatory flows, particularly at the inner curvature 180 degrees from the entrance of the curved artery model. At that position the peak wall shear rate for polyacrylamide was 5-6 times higher than for glycerin and 2-3 times higher than for bovine blood. It is concluded that polyacylamide is too elastic to provide a good model of blood flow under oscillatory conditions, particularly when there is wall shear reversal. Xanthan gum and glycerin are better analog fluids, but neither is entirely satisfactory.