Abstract In this paper the principle of simulating an axial and plane symmetrical magnetic field by a resistance network analogue is analysed. The method of current injection has also been discussed and the formula for the second order approximation was given. Based on the above principle, a resistance network analogue with associated apparatus was constructed. The central part of the network contains 10×14 units. It is extended by end strips to 28 and 32 units in z and r directions respectively. Experiments have been done with this network for several types of field, which have precise solutions analytically. Errors of the network under various conditions were noted and its origin traced. Experience shows that the analogue is reliable. It shortens considerably the time required for the design of many complex magnetic configurations.