The lack of standardization in experimental protocols for unconfined compression tests of intervertebral discs (IVD) tissues is a major issue in the quantification of their mechanical properties. Our hypothesis is that the experimental protocols influence the mechanical properties of both annulus fibrosus and nucleus pulposus. IVD extracted from bovine tails were tested in unconfined compression stress-relaxation experiments according to six different protocols, where for each protocol, the initial swelling of the samples and the applied preload were different. The Young’s modulus was calculated from a viscoelastic model, and the permeability from a linear biphasic poroviscoelastic model. Important differences were observed in the prediction of the mechanical properties of the IVD according to the initial experimental conditions, in agreement with our hypothesis. The protocol including an initial swelling, a 5% strain preload, and a 5% strain ramp is the most relevant protocol to test the annulus fibrosus in unconfined compression, and provides a permeability of 5.0 ± 4.2e−14m4/N·s and a Young’s modulus of 7.6 ± 4.7 kPa. The protocol with semi confined swelling and a 5% strain ramp is the most relevant protocol for the nucleus pulposus and provides a permeability of 10.7 ± 3.1 e−14m4/N·s and a Young’s modulus of 6.0 ± 2.5 kPa.

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