The primary purpose of this paper is to identify performance indices and evaluate a design of a mono-tube MR damper valve, as a result of which relations among performance indices and possible design approaches are explored. To achieve this, initial design of a mono-tube MR damper valve is considered. Common MR damper valve configuration is adopted to which initial design parameters are specified. Performance indices that need to be considered while evaluating the design of a mono-tube magnetorheological (MR) damper valve are identified, and mathematical models are developed. The performance indices of the damper valve depend upon the magnetic circuit design of the valve; hence, for the adopted MR damper valve configuration, finite element model is built to analyze and investigate the performance indices of a 2-D axisymmetric MR damper valve. All performance indices of the damper valve are simulated within given range of input current and number of turns of coil. The simulation results show that the design of the MR dampers is highly dependent on the performance indices, and hence, the MR damper design should be application oriented. The results obtained in this work provide an insight for designers to create more efficient and reliable MR dampers. © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019.