The accurate prediction of the aerodynamics and performance of vertical-axis wind turbines is essential if their design is to be improved but poses a significant challenge to numerical simulation tools. The cyclic motion of the blades induces large variations in the angle of attack of the blades that can manifest as dynamic stall. In addition, predicting the interaction between the blades and the wake developed by the rotor requires a high-fidelity representation of the vortical structures within the flow field in which the turbine operates. The aerodynamic performance and wake dynamics of a Darrieus-type vertical-axis wind turbine consisting of two straight blades is simulated using Brown's Vorticity Transport Model. The predicted variation with azimuth of the normal and tangential force on the turbine blades compares well with experimental measurements. The interaction between the blades and the vortices that are shed and trailed in previous revolutions of the turbine is shown to have a significant effect on the distribution of aerodynamic loading on the blades. Furthermore, it is suggested that the disagreement between experimental and numerical data that has been presented in previous studies arises because the blade–vortex interactions on the rotor were not modelled with sufficient fidelity. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.