Exhaust gas flow maldistribution can strongly affect the performance of catalytic converters. As part of an on-going programme concerned with optimising converter designs, flow maldistribution within catalyst monoliths resulting from the use of different shaped inlet cones was investigated. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) techniques were used to predict gas velocities within the catalyst, and reaction of low levels of hydrogen sulfide in the gas was used to visualise the velocity profile on monoliths coated with a lead acetate indicator. This was done both in laboratory-scale experiments at room temperature with low flow-rates, and in a vehicle exhaust system under reduced temperature conditions. Flow patterns were produced for an underfloor catalyst system under real driving conditions with this unobtrusive chemical technique. The results obtained confirmed the computational predictions, and provide support for use of CFD techniques in the design of catalytic converter systems in real automotive applications.