The aim of this investigation was to achieve the first step toward a comprehensive model of the lymphatic system. A numerical model has been constructed of a lymphatic vessel, consisting of a short series chain of contractile segments (lymphangions) and of intersegmental valves. The changing diameter of a segment governs the difference between the flows through inlet and outlet valves and is itself governed by a balance between transmural pressure and passive and active wall properties. The compliance of segments is maximal at intermediate diameters and decreases when the segments are subject to greatly positive or negative transmural pressure. Fluid flow is the result of time-varying active contraction causing diameter to reduce and is limited by segmental viscous and valvular resistance. The valves effect a smooth transition from low forward-flow resistance to high backflow resistance. Contraction occurs sequentially in successive lymphangions in the forward-flow direction. The behavior of chains of one to five lymphangions was investigated by means of pump function curves, with variation of valve opening parameters, maximum contractility, lymphangion size gradation, number of lymphangions, and phase delay between adjacent lymphangion contractions. The model was reasonably robust numerically, with mean flow-rate generally reducing as adverse pressure was increased. Sequential contraction was found to be much more efficient than synchronized contraction. At the highest adverse pressures, pumping failed by one of two mechanisms, depending on parameter settings: either mean leakback flow exceeded forward pumping or contraction failed to open the lymphangion outlet valve. Maximum pressure and maximum flow-rate were both sensitive to the contractile state; maximum pressure was also determined by the number of lymphangions in series. Maximum flow-rate was highly sensitive to the transmural pressure experienced by the most upstream lymphangions, suggesting that many feeding lymphatics would be needed to supply one downstream lymphangion chain pumping at optimal transmural pressure.