PROcedures for TESTing (PROTEST) and measuring wind energy systems) was a pre-normative project that ran from 2008 to 2010 in order to improve the reliability of mechanical components of wind turbines. Initiating the project, it was concluded that the procedures concerning these components should be further improved. Within the PROTEST project, complementary procedures have been developed to improve the specification of the design loads at the interfaces where the mechanical components (pitch and yaw system, as well as the drive train) are attached to the wind turbine. This is required, since in optimizing wind turbine operation and improving reliability, focus should be given to the design, not only to safety related components but also to the rest of the components affecting the overall behaviour of the wind turbine as a system. The project has resulted in a proposal for new design load cases, specifically for the drive train, a description of the loads to be defined at the interfaces of each mechanical system, as well as a method to set up and use the prototype measurements to validate or improve the load calculations concerning the mechanical components. Following this method would improve the reliability of wind turbines, although more experience is needed to efficiently use the method. Examples are given for the analysis of the drive train, pitch system and yaw system. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.