Abstract The elastic analysis of a dent on a pressurised cylinder is investigated. The predetermined shapes of the dent are grouped into three categories according to the physical geometry of the dent width, namely the local dent, the short dent, and the long dent. The induced bending stresses associated with the dent are evaluated using Sanders's non-linear shell theory. The geometry of the dent is treated as an initial geometric imperfection and incorporated in the expressions of strain. The non-linear cylindrical shell equations thus obtained are linearised and then solved by a Fourier series expansion technique. Comparison of theoretical results with the finite element approach is made for a pipe of assumed dimensions and pressure. Good agreement of the results is observed. The analytical approach of this paper is suitable for pipe or cylinder with a dent depth of up to five times the wall thickness.