The early specification of bioprocesses often has to be achieved with small (tens of millilitres) quantities of process material. If extensive process discovery is to be avoided at pilot or industrial scale, it is necessary that scale-down methods be created that not only examine the conditions of process stages but also allows production of realistic output streams (i.e., streams truly representative of the large scale). These output streams can then be used in the development of subsequent purification operations. The traditional approach to predicting filtration operations is via a bench-scale pressure filter using constant pressure tests to examine the effect of pressure on the filtrate flux rate and filter cake dewatering. Interpretation of the results into cake resistance at unit applied pressure (α) and compressibility (n) is used to predict the pressure profile required to maintain the filtrate flux rate at a constant predetermined value. This article reports on the operation of a continuous mode laboratory filter in such a way as to prepare filter cakes and filtrate similar to what may be achieved at the industrial scale. Analysis of the filtration rate profile indicated the filter cake to have changing properties (compressibility) with time. Using the insight gained from the new scale-down methodology gave predictions of the flux profile in a pilot-scale candle filter superior to those obtained from the traditional batch filter used for laboratory development. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biotechnol Bioeng 83: 454–464, 2003.