Rubble-mound breakwaters are subjected not only to water wave action but also to other types of environmental loading, such as earthquakes. The design of coastal structures should take into account the most relevant factors in each case, including seismic loading. The purpose of this study is to understand the dynamic response of breakwater materials in dry and water conditions. Hence, an experimental study was carried out for homogeneous breakwater structures subjected to different dynamic loadings with variable frequencies and amplitudes in a shaking tank. A shaking tank with a single degree of freedom was developed. The experiments were performed with rigid bottom conditions. The model scale was 1/50. The cyclic responses of the breakwater made of entirely armor material and another of entirely core material were examined separately, and their behaviors were then compared. The experimental results are also discussed with a numerical study, and the material properties and failure modes were thus defined. It is found that the settlement of the armor and core materials under cyclic loads increased with increasing base acceleration level. The cyclic deformation of the rubble mound breakwater in water was larger than that under dry conditions. The cyclic deformation of the rubble materials resulted in crest lowering and slumping. Dominant mode of the seismic failure was associated with the settlement of the crown of the structure accompanied by densification of the core material. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.