In the present work, the propagation of weakly non-linear waves in a prestressed thin viscoelastic tube filled with an incompressible inviscid fluid is studied. Considering that the arteries are initially subjected to a large static transmural pressure P-0 and an axial stretch lambda(z) and, in the course of blood flow, a finite time-dependent displacement is added to this initial field, the governing non-linear equation of motion in the radial direction is obtained. Using the reductive perturbation technique, the propagation of weakly non-linear, dispersive and dissipative waves is examined and the evolution equations are obtained. Utilizing the same set of governing equations the amplitude modulation of weakly non-linear and dissipative but strongly dispersive waves is examined. The localized travelling wave solution to these field equations are also given. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd: All rights reserved.