Retention of a two small phages (ΦX-174 and pp7) by direct-flow small-virus-retentive filters [Viresolve NFP (normal-flow parvovirus), Virosart CPV (canine parvovirus), Ultipor DV20 and Planova 20N] was studied using a commercial-process fluid. Phage passage occurred in each filter type, particularly when overloaded with phage. Clearances of pp7 and ΦX-174 were similar for any given filter brand, arguing that the two phages are equivalent for testing small-virus-retentive filters. The patterns of flux under constant pressure and instantaneous LRV (log reduction value) in relationship to cumulative phage load differed between brands, consistent with the current industry understanding that each brand possesses specific performance attributes. Phages are a powerful and universal tool for evaluating filter performance. Validation of filter performance with phages such as pp7 or ΦX-174 as models for small mammalian viruses represents an attractive alternative to the current practice.