This paper deals with the long term behaviour of flexible rotor systems, which are supported by nonlinear bearings. A system consisting of a rotor and a shaft which is supported by one oil journal bearing is investigated numerically. The shaft is modelled using finite elements and reduced using a component mode synthesis method. The bearings are modelled using the finite-length bearing theory. Branches of periodic solutions are calculated for three models of the system with an unbalance at the rotor. Also self-excited oscillations are calculated for the three models if no mass unbalance is present. The results show that a mass unbalance can stabilize rotor oscillations. © 1996 Kluwer Academic Publishers.