The unsteady behavior of a 2-D circular elastic capsule was investigated in three viscous shear flows. An immersed boundary method (IBM) has been used to solve the dynamic fluid-structure interaction of the capsule. Computations were carried out in finite parameter ranges where the Reynolds number is Re=1-40 and the capillary number is Ca=0.0005-0.05, which is the ratio of the external viscous shear stress to the resistant elastic tensions of the membrane. For the simple shear flow, the effect of inertia on the transient behavior of the capsule was studied. For the pulsatile shear flow, two values of the peak fluid strain, T(f)=1 and 5, were considered for the quasi-steady capsule mechanics. The capsule shows a cyclic structural response that includes subharmonics as the Reynolds number is elevated to 10 and 40. The capsule dynamic response includes a phase lag, which is a function of the capillary number, the Reynolds number, and the peak fluid strain. Finally, the capsule flowing in the Couette flow shows lateral migration due to the transient lift force, which is higher for lower Ca and higher Re. When capsules with diverse elasticity are dispersed along the velocity gradient, the capsule with a hard membrane experienced greater lift than the one with a soft membrane. (C) 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd.