A predictive model has been presented to suggest the transient response of plate heat exchangers, subjected to a step flow variation. The work also brings out the effect of the port to channel maldistribution on the performance of plate heat exchangers under the condition of flow variation. The results indicate that flow maldistribution affects the performance of the plate heat exchangers in the transient regime. A wide range of the parametric study has been presented which brings out the effects of NTU and heat capacity rate ratio on the response of the plate heat exchanger, subjected flow perturbation. To verify the presented theoretical model, appropriate experiments have been carried out. Experiments include the responses of the outlet temperatures subjected to inlet temperature transient in the circuit followed by a sudden change in flow rate in one of the fluids. Simulated performance has been compared to the performance measured in the experiments. Comparisons indicate that theoretical model developed for flow transient is capable of predicting the transient performance of the plate heat exchangers satisfactorily, under the given conditions of changed flow rates. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.