This paper presents the results of two-way cyclic lateral load tests carried out on model pile groups embedded in soft marine clay. The tests are conducted on 1 × 2, 2 × 2 and 3 × 3 pile groups having length to diameter ratio (L/D) of 15, 30 and 40 with the spacing to diameter ratio (S/D) of 3, 5, 7 and 9. The experimental results are presented in the form of load-deflection curves and bending moment profiles. Cyclic group efficiency, critical spacing, critical cyclic load level and cyclic p-multipliers are evaluated. It is found that the lateral capacity of the 3 × 3 group reduces by about 42% after 50 cycles of loading. The cyclic p-multipliers of 3 × 3 pile group are found to be 0.41, 0.25 and 0.29 for leading, intermediate and rear rows respectively. The test results are compared with the numerical analysis carried out by p-y method using GROUP program. The analysis carried out with experimentally evaluated p-multipliers predicts load-deflection and bending profiles of pile groups reasonably well, but underestimates the depth to maximum bending moment by about 15%. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.