Moisture movement through soil under trickle irrigation was studied in the laboratory at the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, West Bengal, in 1988/89. Using a cylindrical flow model, the finite difference technique was used to compute the 2-dimensional moisture distributions and wetting front advancements in soils with clay contents ranging from 22·1 to 51·8%. Seven-day cyclic irrigations, each day having one on-cycle (infiltration) with a constant trickle discharge of 0·3 litre/h for 12 h and one off-cycle (redistribution) for 12 h, were used with two water qualities, EC 0·15 and 0·64 S/m. Moisture distributions were measured in artificially packed soil columns 60 cm high and 56 cm in diameter. The degree of agreement between the theoretical and observed values was expressed by Relative Error Percent (REP), defined as the difference between the two, divided by the observed value and expressed as a percentage. The mean REP ranged from 0 to 30, 62·5% of the values falling in the range 0–10, 22·5% from 10 to 20, and 15% from 20 to 30, irrespective of soil texture, water salinity or the irrigation cycle used. It was concluded that the theoretical data closely matched the experimental results. The wetting front in the soil columns was defined as the minimum detectable increase in moisture (10-3 cc/cc) from the initial content, and its advancement was calculated over the entire period of on-off cycles. This model was also used to calculate, for one soil, the theoretical moisture distribution under trickle irrigation with simultaneous loss by evaporation, which is an essential component of field moisture balance.