Pipelines are the main element in transporting hydrocarbons from their extraction sites to on-shore or floating facilities, with preference now given to pipelines laid directly on the seabed due to their fast and economic installation. However, these pipelines are exposed and must be stable under all environmental conditions, and therefore, their design for on-bottom stability is of critical importance. Although accurate prediction of the pipe-soil interaction behaviour under hydrodynamic loads from waves and currents is of major concern, limited physical testing of pipes subjected to these cyclic loading conditions has occurred. Tests have concentrated on simpler load combinations in order to develop pipe-soil friction factors or the key parameters in plasticity models that described pipe-soil behaviour. In this paper, results from geotechnical centrifuge experiments of a model pipe on calcareous sand soil collected from offshore on the North West Shelf of Australia are presented. A sophisticated load control scheme allowed complex paths characteristic of hydrodynamic loads to be applied during the testing. Furthermore, pipe testing could be extended to relatively large horizontal movements of up to 5 pipe diameter. The results of the centrifuge testing programme provide improved understanding of the pipe-soil interaction under complex hydrodynamic load paths. They have also been used to assess a state-of-the-art plasticity model describing pipe-soil interaction on calcareous sands. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.