Abstract This article presents an outdoor test method to evaluate the optical and thermal performance of parabolic-trough collectors of large size (length ≥ 100 m), similar to those currently installed in solar thermal power plants. Optical performance in line-focus collectors is defined by three parameters, peak-optical efficiency and longitudinal and transversal incidence angle modifiers. In parabolic-troughs, the transversal incidence angle modifier is usually assumed equal to 1, and the incidence angle modifier is referred to the longitudinal incidence angle modifier, which is a factor less than or equal to 1 and must be quantified. These measurements are performed by operating the collector at low fluid temperatures for reducing heat losses. Thermal performance is measured during tests at various operating temperatures, which are defined within the working temperature range of the solar field, and for the condition of maximum optical response. Heat losses are measured from both the experiments performed to measure the overall efficiency and the experiments done by operating the collector to ensure that absorber pipes are not exposed to concentrated solar radiation. The set of parameters describing the performance of a parabolic-trough collector of large size has been measured following the test procedures proposed and explained in the article.