Aortic compliance has been well established as an independent predictor of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. The current "gold standard" for assessing aortic compliance is to use the carotid-femoral pulse-wave velocity (PWV) as a surrogate; however, PWV alone has been discussed in the literature as being inadequate for assessing compliance, especially for elderly patients and others who have a stiff aorta. In this paper an equation for the aortic compliance is developed using two approaches: 1) lumped-parameter modeling based on blood-pressure data and 2) distributed modeling based on the PWV. In-vitro experiments are conducted using a silicone-rubber tube which simulates the aorta, and an actual aorta harvested from a 1-year old, Holstein heifer. For both the rubber aorta and the Holstein aorta, a comparison is made between the blood-pressure model and the PWV model. In conclusion it is shown that good agreement exists between the two models, suggesting that either model may be used depending upon the available data. Furthermore, due to differences in material properties, it is shown that the compliance of the rubber aorta increases with mean arterial-pressure, while the compliance of the Holstein aorta decreases with mean arterial-pressure. Clinical implications of this research are also discussed.