Abstract This paper presents a comparative study of the condensation heat transfer coefficients in a smooth tube when operating with pure refrigerant R134a and its mixture with lubricant Castrol “icematic sw”. The lubricant is synthetic polyol ester based oil commonly used in lubricating the compressors. Two concentrations of R134a-oil mixtures of 2% and 5% oil (by mass) were analysed for a range of saturation temperatures of refrigerant R134a between 35 °C and 45 °C. The mass flow rate of the refrigerant and the mixtures was carefully maintained at 1 g/s, with a vapour quality varying between 1.0 and 0. The effects of vapour quality, flow rate, saturation temperature and temperature difference between saturation and tube wall on the heat transfer coefficient are investigated by analysing the experimental data. The experimental results were then compared with predictions from earlier models [Int J Heat Mass Transfer (1979), 185; 6th Int Heat Transfer Congress 3 (1974) 309; Int J Refrig 18 (1995) 524; Trans ASME 120 (1998) 193]. Finally two new empirical models were developed to predict the two-phase condensation heat transfer coefficient for pure refrigerant R134a and a mixture of refrigerant R134a with Castrol “icematic sw”.