An experimental study on critical heat flux (CHF) and two-phase flow visualization has been performed for water flow in internally-heated, vertical, concentric annuli under near atmospheric pressure. Tests have been done under stable forced-circulation, upward and downward flow conditions with three test sections of relatively large gap widths (heated length = 0.6 m, inner diameter = 19 mm, outer diameter = 29, 35 and 51 mm). The outer wall of the test section was made up of the transparent Pyrex tube to allow the observation of flow patterns near the CHF occurrence. The CHF mechanism was changed in the order of flooding, churn-to-annular flow transition and local dryout under a large bubble in churn how as the flow rate was increased from zero to higher values. Observed parametric trends are consistent with the previous understanding except that the CHF for downward flow is considerably lower than that for the upward flow. In addition to the experiment, selected CHF correlations for annuli are assessed based on 1156 experimental data from various sources. The Doerffer et al. (1994); Barnett (1966); Jannsen and Kervinen (1963); Levitan and Lantsman (1977) correlations show reasonable predictions for wide parameter ranges, among which the Doerffer et al. (1994) correlation shows the widest parameter ranges and a possibility of further improvement. However, there is no correlation predicting the low-pressure, low-flow CHF satisfactorily. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science S.A.