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This paper synthesizes the state-of-the art of the various laboratory testing techniques presently available for measuring the water hydraulic constitutive functions of unsaturated soils. Emphasis is on the laboratory testing techniques for measuring the soil–water retention curves and the water hydraulic conductivity functions of unsaturated soils. The significant recent advances in the investigation of the hydraulic behaviour of unsaturated swelling soils, are also presented. Comprehensive recent references on each measurement method are listed and discussed.