In this paper the nonlinear dynamic behavior of a viscoelastic circular cylindrical shell under a harmonic excitation applied at both ends is studied. The modified Flugge partial differential equations of motion are reduced to a system of finite degrees of freedom using the Galerkin method. The equations are solved by the Liapunov–Schmidt reduction procedure. In order to study 1/2 and 1/4 subharmonic parametric resonance of the shell, the transition sets in parameter plane and bifurcation diagrams are plotted for a number of situations. Results indicate that, for certain static loads, the shell may display jumps due to the presence of dynamic periodic load with small amplitude. Additionally, different physical situations are identified in which periodic oscillating phenomena can be observed, and where 1/4 subharmonic parametric resonance is simpler than the 1/2-one.