The laboratory and field experiments so far have shown that when a wave breaks directly on a vertical faced coastal structure, the resulting impact pressures may become very severe in magnitude and short in duration. Some experimental evidence in the literature suggests that the structural response to the extremely high magnitude impact forces is only limited. This study is mainly concerned with the comparison of the theoretical and experimental results of a vertical wall response under the wave impact loading. In the dynamic analysis of the wall the classical elastic plate theory is used and the numerical results for the dynamic values of the transverse displacement are obtained by employing the method of finite elements. In the theoretical analyses the experimental pressure histories are used and the theoretical wall deflection histories are compared with the experimental results. The computational and experimental deflection histories exhibit similar patterns. The theoretical maximum wall deflections are mostly found to be slightly smaller than the experimental values. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.