In this study, the impact-echo method was employed to evaluate the integrity of shafts, and parametric simulations of the impact-echo method were carried out numerically and experimentally. A one-dimensional finite element study was performed for mock-up shafts that include solid and damaged shafts. The mock-up shaft was made of Monocast, and four types of flaws were considered: (1) axisymmetric voids, (2) non-axisymmetric voids, (3) necks, and (4) bulbs. The reduction in shaft cross-sectional area varied from 30 to 80%. Subsequently, experimental studies were carried out to verify the finite element models using similar mock-up shafts. These experimental studies were carried out in the air and soil, and impact responses were analyzed in both time and frequency domains. It was shown that the results of the experiment were in agreement with those of numerical studies, and the accuracy of the impact-echo method was influenced by the type, size and location of flaws. In addition, it was also revealed that axisymmetric void, non-axisymmetric void, and neck could be detected in the frequency domain when the reduction in shaft cross-sectional area was more than 50%. Alternatively in the time domain, it was possible to identify the flaw reliably when the reduction was 30%. This latter approach provides the better possibility of detecting smaller flaw in shaft. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.