Grid-stiffened composite structures are known for their very high efficiency under compressive loading environment. The grid of stiffening ribs is the primary feature in these structures and filament winding is employed as the most convenient manufacturing technique. Three different types of circular cylindrical structures - unstiffened shell (with skin only), lattice cylinder (with ribs only) and grid-stiffened shell (with skin and ribs) - are considered for experimental study and a series of these structures have been manufactured adopting a simplified and cheap manufacturing process. Different aspects of manufacturing that include tooling and other processing aspects are presented in this paper. Axial compression tests have been carried out and the results are compared with finite element analysis. Based on the test results and comparison with finite element analysis, conclusions are drawn on the efficacies of this relatively new class of structures. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.