This paper presents two test procedures for evaluating the bond stress–slip and the slip–radial dilation relationships when the prestressing force is transmitted by releasing the steel (wire or strand) in precast prestressed elements. The bond stress–slip relationship is obtained with short length specimens, to guarantee uniform bond stress, for three depths of the wire indentation (shallow, medium and deep). An analytical model for bond stress–slip relationship is proposed and compared with the experimental results. The model is also compared with the experimental results of other researchers. Since numerical models for studying bond-splitting problems in prestressed concrete require experimental data about dilatancy angle (radial dilation), a test procedure is proposed to evaluate these parameters. The obtained values of the radial dilation are compared with the prior estimated by numerical modelling and good agreement is reached. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.