To determine a suitable boundary-condition model for the contact line in oscillatory flow, an upright plate, oscillated vertically with sinusoidal motion in dye-laden water with an air interface, is considered experimentally. Constrained by the desirability of a two-dimensional flow field, eight frequencies in the 1–20 Hz range, each with seven different stroke amplitudes (0.5–6 mm) are chosen. The Reynolds number varies from 1.6 to 1878.3 in the experiments, large relative to the Reynolds number in the conventional uni-directional contact-line experiments (e.g. Dussan V.'s 1974 experiments). To facilitate prediction, a high-speed video system is used to record the plate displacement, the contact-line displacement, and the dynamic behaviour of the contact angle. Several interesting contact-line phenomena are shown in the present results. An expression for λ, the dimensionless capillary coefficient, is formulated such that the dynamic behaviour at the contact line is predicted reasonably well. A particle-tracking-velocimetry (PTV) technique is used to detect particle trajectories near the plate such that the boundary condition along the entire plate can be modelled. Two sets of PTV experiments are conducted. One set is for stick contact-line motion, the other set is for stick–slip contact-line motion. The results from the PTV experiments show that a vortex is formed near the meniscus in the stick-slip contact-line experiments; however, in the stick contact-line experiments, no such vortex is present. Using the present experimental results, a model is developed for the boundary condition along the vertically oscillating vertical plate. In this model, slip occurs within a specific distance from the contact line while the flow obeys the no-slip condition outside this slip region. Also, the mean slip length is determined for each experimental stroke amplitude.