Suction caissons have been used for numerous oil and gas installations and are increasingly considered as a foundation solution for offshore wind turbines (OWTs). There can be significant differences between the two offshore energy applications in the load paths and magnitudes, soil type and caisson aspect ratio (skirt length to diameter). This paper investigates the response of suction caissons in dense sand to a range of cyclic vertical loading histories relevant to a jacket-supported OWT, with an emphasis on cyclic tensile loading. The findings are based on a series of experiments performed in a centrifuge, such that soil stresses reflect those in the prototype. The caisson was installed using suction at enhanced gravity, followed by cyclic loading and then caisson extraction. The installation and extraction results are discussed in a companion paper. This paper focuses on the caisson load–displacement response under vertical cyclic loading. The centrifuge experimental results reinforce findings from previous work, add insights into the load transfer mechanisms and provide confidence in their applicability to the prototype, both qualitatively and quantitatively. The results highlight the complexity of the caisson response, particularly under tensile loading, with the influences of average load, cyclic load amplitude and drainage discussed in detail.