Accurate identification of contact dynamics is very crucial in predicting the dynamic behavior and chatter stability of spindle-tool assemblies in machining centers. it is well known that the stability lobe diagrams used for predicting regenerative chatter vibrations can be obtained from the tool point frequency response function (FRF) of the system. As previously shown by the authors, contact dynamics at the spindle-holder and holder-tool interfaces as well as the dynamics of bearings affect the tool point FRF considerably. Contact stiffness and damping values alter the frequencies and peak values of dominant vibration modes, respectively. Fast and accurate identification of contact dynamics in spindle-tool assemblies has become an important issue in the recent years. In this paper, a new method for identifying contact dynamics in spindle-holder-tool assemblies from experimental measurements is presented. The elastic receptance coupling equations are employed in a simple manner and closed-form expressions are obtained for the stiffness and damping parameters of the joint of interest. Although this study focuses on the contact dynamics at the spindle-holder and holder-tool interfaces of the assembly, the identification approach proposed in this paper might as well be used for identifying the dynamical parameters of bearings, spindle-holder interface and as well as other critical joints. After presenting the mathematical theory, an analytical case study is given for demonstration of the identification approach. Experimental verification is provided for identification of the dynamical contact parameters at the holder-tool interface of a spindle-holder-tool assembly. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.