This paper describes the experimental and numerical investigationson unsteady three-dimensional flow fields in two types of transonic centrifugal compressor impellers with different aerodynamic characteristics. In the experimental results, the frequency spectra of the pressure fluctuations, which were measured with the high-response pressure transducers mounted on the casing wall just upstream of the impeller, turned out to be quite different between the compressor impellers at stall condition. 0The simulation results also showed different stall pattern for each compressor impeller. In the compressor impeller with a better performance at off-design condition, the stall cell was never formed despite decreasing flow rate and instead all the passages were covered with a reverse flow near the tip, where the vortex breakdown happened in the tip leakage vortex of full blade and led to the unsteadiness in the impeller. The vortex breakdown happened in all the passages prior to the stall and generated a blockage near the tip. This means that even with the advent of rotating stall the flow could not return to a normal undistorted condition in unstalled region, because all the passages are already occupied by the blockage due to the vortex breakdown. As a result, the rotating stall cell could not appear in the impeller. In the other compressor impeller, the rotating stall cell was formed at stall inception without the vortex breakdown in the tip leakage vortex of full blade, and developed with decreased flow rate.