The performance characteristics of four different axisymmetric contraction shapes with the same contraction ratio are experimentally investigated for incompressible flow. The pre- and post contraction mean and turbulent velocity along the axis as a function of local contraction ratio and axial length are presented. The results show that all the nozzles are of essentially equal effectiveness as far as the core flow in the exit plane is concerned. But the mean and turbulence characteristics of the exit boundary layer, the upstream influence of the contraction, and the departure from equipartition within the nozzle vary significantly with the contraction shape. The data demonstrate the inadequacy of the Batchelor-Proudman-Ribner-Tucker theory in predicting the effect of a contraction on the turbulence structure. These data are of interest in wind tunnel and nozzle design, and in boundary layer prediction.