The phenomenon of wake interaction between two wind turbines was analysed using the actuator line technique and full unsteady Navier–Stokes computations. Results are presented for varying mutual distances between the two turbines and both full wake and half wake situations were considered. Furthermore, simulations were carried out at different degrees of ambient turbulence intensity representing laminar, offshore and onshore conditions. From the simulations, the main characteristics of the interacting wakes were extracted including the averaged velocity and turbulence fields as well as the development of wake generated vortex structures. Moreover, the influence of the wake of the upstream turbine on the external aerodynamic loading on the blades of the downstream turbine was studied. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.