Most of the water diversions on the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers (California, United States) and their tributaries are currently unscreened. These unscreened diversions are commonly used for irrigation and are potentially harmful to migrating and resident fishes. A large flume (test section: 18.29 m long, 3.05 m wide and 3.20 m high) was used to investigate the hydraulic fields near an unscreened water diversion under ecologically and hydraulically relevant diversion rates and channel flow characteristics. We investigated all combinations of three diversion rates (0.28, 0.42, and 0.57 m(3)/s) and three sweeping velocities (0.15, 0.38, and 0.61 m/s), with one additional test at 0.71 m(3)/s and 0.15 m/s. We measured the three-dimensional velocity field at seven cross sections near a diversion pipe and constructed regression equations of the observed maximum velocities near the pipe. Because the velocity components in three directions (longitudinal, transverse, and vertical) were significantly greater near the diversion pipe inlet compared with those farther from it, they cannot be neglected in the modeling and design of fish guidance and protection devices for diversion pipes. Our results should be of great value in quantifying the hydraulic fields that are formed around fish guidance devices to design more effective protection for fishes from entrainment into unscreened water-diversion pipes.