In a highly innovative market, wireless systems nowadays undergo very short production cycles. Due to these tough timing constraints, the time-consuming process of prototyping is often neglected, jeopardizing the entire product becoming successful. Heavy application of automatic tools can allow for rapid prototyping overcoming this unfortunate situation and de-risking the product challenge. However, the application of automatic tools alone does not speed up the prototyping process sufficiently. By reflecting on current design processes, several paradigms for faster prototyping are concluded, named the Five-Ones Approach: One team, One environment, One code, One documentation and One code revision tool. Based on such a Five-Ones Approach, a consistent prototyping environment to implement a prototyping design from first idea to final implementation is presented in this paper. In particular, the design of a prototype for a MIMO system with four transmit and four receive antennas, based on the current UMTS FDD downlink standard is reported. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.