Thick shells of revolution are analyzed for their axisymmetric vibration behaviour. The theory used was proposed by Naghdi. It includes the thickness normal strain, higher order thickness modes and shear deformation. A higher order axisymmetric finite element with 21 degrees of freedom is used to solve the problem. In the present paper, the results of present higher order theory are compared with two other theories, viz., the theory without thickness normal strain and Love’s first approximation thin shell theory. The effect of various parameters on the vibration characteristics is also studied. © 1993 Academic Press limited.