Abstract Gas-flow dynamics in internal gas manifolds of a fuel-cell stack are analyzed to investigate overall pressure variation and flow distribution. Different gas-flow patterns are considered in this analysis. Gas-flow through gas channels of each cell is modeled by means of Darcy’s law where permeability should be determined on an experimental basis. Gas-flow in manifolds is modeled from the macroscopic mechanical energy balance with pressure-loss by wall friction and geometrical effects. A systematic algorithm to solve the proposed flow model is suggested to calculate pressure and flow distribution in fuel-cell stacks. Calculation is done for a 100-cell molten carbonate fuel-cell stack with internal manifolds. The results show that the pressure-loss by wall friction is negligible compared with the pressure recovery in inlet manifolds or loss in outlet manifolds due to mass dividing or combining flow at manifold–cell junctions. A more significant effect on manifold pressure possibly arises from the geometrical manifold structure which depends on the manifold size and shape. The geometrical effect is approximated from pressure-loss coefficients of several types of fittings and valves. The overall pressure and flow distribution is significantly affected by the value of the geometrical pressure-loss coefficient. It is also found that the flow in manifolds is mostly turbulent in the 100-cell stack and this way result in an uneven flow distribution when the stack manifold is incorrectly, designed.