The transient analysis of viscoelastic helical rods subject to time-dependent loads are examined in the Laplace domain. The governing equations for naturally twisted and curved spatial rods obtained using the Timoshenko beam theory are rewritten for cylindrical helical rods. The curvature of the rod axis, effect of rotary inertia and, shear and axial deformations are considered in the formulation. The material of the rod is assumed to be homogeneous, isotropic and linear viscoelastic. The viscoelastic constitutive equations are written in the Boltzmann-Volterra form. Ordinary differential equations in canonical form obtained in the Laplace domain are solved numerically using the complementary functions method to calculate the dynamic stiffness matrix of the problem. The solutions obtained are transformed to the real space using an appropriate numerical inverse Laplace transform method. Numerical results for quasi-static and dynamic response of viscoelastic models are presented in the form of graphics. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.