Shake table tests were undertaken on an actual wind turbine (65 kW rated power, 22.6 m hub height and a 16 m rotor diameter) using the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation Large High Performance Outdoor Shake Table at the University of California, San Diego. Each base shaking event was imparted in two states, whereas the turbine rotor was still (parked), and while it was spinning (operational). Each state was tested in two orientations of shaking direction, one parallel (fore-aft) and another perpendicular (side-to-side) to the axis of rotation of the rotor. Structural response characteristics are presented for motions imparted in both configurations and both operational states. Modal parameters (natural frequencies, damping ratios and mode shapes) were estimated throughout the testing program. It is found that shaking imparted in the fore-aft direction while spinning is the only observed situation where operational effects appear significant, with reductions up to 33% in seismic bending moment demand near the tower base. Using modifications developed by the research team to the FAST code, experimental results are compared with corresponding simulations to show that dynamic characteristics, acceleration time histories and trends in tower bending seismic demand can be numerically approximated. This experimental evidence and associated numerical simulations suggest that modeling of combined wind and earthquake loading with existing turbine specific codes produce meaningful results. Discrepancies between experimental and numerical results support that further refinement of simulation codes can improve accuracy beyond the current state. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.