Fuel rods with burnup values beyond 50GWd/t are characterised by relatively large amounts of fission products and a high abundance of major and minor actinides. Of particular interest is the change in the reactivity of the fuel as a function of burnup and the capability of modern codes to predict this change. In addition, the neutron emission from burnt fuel has important implications for the design of transport and storage facilities. Measurements have been made of the reactivity effects and the neutron emission rates of highly burnt uranium oxide and mixed oxide fuel rod samples coming from a pressurised water reactor (PWR). The reactivity measurements have been made in a PWR lattice in the PROTEUS zero-energy reactor moderated in turn with: water, a water and heavy water mixture and water containing boron. A combined transport flask and sample changer was used to insert the 400mm long burnt fuel rod segments into the reactor. Both control rod compensation and reactor period methods were used to determine the reactivities of the samples. For the range of burnup values investigated, an interesting exponential relationship has been found between the neutron emission rate and the measured reactivity. [All rights reserved Elsevier]