In this paper, two different solutions in the form of series of the governing equation of unsteady flow of a second grade fluid are considered. These are series expansions with respect to inverse power of time and a perturbation expansion. Two illustrative examples are given. One of them is the unsteady flow of a second grade fluid over a plane wall suddenly set in motion and the other is the diffusion of a line vortex in a fluid of second grade. It is a remarkable fact that the expression of the series expansion with respect to inverse power of time is exactly in the same form as that of the perturbation expansion. Thus, it is possible to replace a series expansion with respect to inverse power of time with a perturbation expansion. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.