This study aims to investigate the relation between the Kaiser effect ( KE) levels and pre-stresses applied to rock samples in laboratory. For the purpose, a number of test specimens were obtained from different types of rock and a mortar block. Deformation and crack propagation stages were identified for each sample group. Based on the thresholds of these stages, the specimens were subjected to selected pre-stresses under uniaxial and axisymetric triaxial loading under laboratory conditions. Following the laboratory preloadings, acoustic emission ( AE) experiments were carried out on the specimens under uniaxial loading conditions to determine the KE levels. The comparisons made between the laboratory pre-stresses and the KE levels suggest that the KE level is not equal to one of the pre-stress values or their differences, and should be related to combined effect of axial and confined pre-stresses, and some rock dependent characteristics. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.