Experimental investigation is carried out to study the lateral load–deflection and bending behaviour of model flexible pile groups embedded in soft clay. The effects of embedment length of pile, magnitude of applied lateral load, size of group, row and column wise position of piles in the group, cyclic loading and presence of vertical loading on lateral response of pile group are evaluated. Results from the tests reveal that flexible piles subjected to lateral load greater than about 60 % of ultimate lateral load cannot be considered as flexible. Maximum bending moment of front row pile of 3 × 3 group is about 16 % higher than that of middle row pile. Within the same row piles, corner pile has about 10 % higher bending moment than that of middle pile. Maximum bending moment in pile subjected to 15 cycles of loading is about 80 % higher than that for static loading. The lateral capacity of the 3 × 3 pile group with 60 % of ultimate vertical load is about 18 % less than that of the pile group with no vertical load. © 2015, Indian Geotechnical Society.