The zonal rate model (ZRM) has previously been applied for analyzing the performance of axial flow membrane chromatography capsules by independently determining the impacts of flow and binding related non-idealities on measured breakthrough curves. In the present study, the ZRM is extended to radial flow configurations, which are commonly used at larger scales. The axial flow XT5 capsule and the radial flow XT140 capsule from Pall are rigorously analyzed under binding and non-binding conditions with bovine serum albumin (BSA) as test molecule. The binding data of this molecule is much better reproduced by the spreading model, which hypothesizes different binding orientations, than by the well-known Langmuir model. Moreover, a revised cleaning protocol with NaCl instead of NaOH and minimizing the storage time has been identified as most critical for quantitatively reproducing the measured breakthrough curves. The internal geometry of both capsules is visualized by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The flow in the external hold-up volumes of the XT140 capsule was found to be more homogeneous as in the previously studied XT5 capsule. An attempt for model-based scale-up was apparently impeded by irregular pleat structures in the used XT140 capsule, which might lead to local variations in the linear velocity through the membrane stack. However, the presented approach is universal and can be applied to different capsules. The ZRM is shown to potentially help save valuable material and time, as the experiments required for model calibration are much cheaper than the predicted large-scale experiment at binding conditions. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2013; 110: 1129–1141. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.