Although large-size simple shear (SS) testing of municipal solid waste (MSW) may arguably provide a more realistic estimate of the shear strength (τ ) of MSW than the most commonly used direct shear (DS) testing, a systematic comparison between the shear responses of MSW obtained from the two testing methods is lacking. In this study, a large-size shear device was used to test identical MSW specimens sampled in USA in DS and SS. Eight DS tests and 11 SS tests were conducted at vertical effective stresses of 50–500 kPa. The stress–displacement response of MSW in SS testing was hyperbolic and a maximum shear stress was reached, whereas a maximum shear stress was not reached in most DS tests. The τ, effective friction angle (ϕ ′) and cohesion (c ′) of MSW were obtained from DS and SS tests by using a displacement failure criterion of 40 mm. τ in SS testing was found to be equal to or lower than τ in DS testing with ratios of τ between 73 and 101%. SS testing resulted in higher ϕ ′ but lower c ′ than DS testing. The shear strength parameters were lower than those obtained in previous studies from DS tests at 55 mm displacement.