This paper describes an investigation into journal bearings with geometries and working fluid similar to centrifugal blood pumps. The aim is to describe the phenomena that cause these journal bearings to deviate from classical predictions. Experimental, analytical and numerical methods are used to investigate the behaviour of a range of bearings with geometries and working fluid similar to blood pumps. It was found that the clearance had a significant effect on the force-eccentricity characteristic of the bearing, with smallest and largest clearances deviating from classical predictions. Experimentally measured pressure distributions show that slip occurs when the clearance is small and that turbulence occurs with the largest clearances. The effects of these phenomena on lubricant pressure and blood compatibility are discussed.