In recent decades the hydraulics of leaks, i.e. the definition of the relationships linking the hydraulic quantities in pipes with leaks, has received increasing attention. On the one hand, the definition of the relationship between the leak outflow and the relevant parameters – e.g. the leak area and shape, the pressure inside the pipe and outside the leak, and the pipe material – is crucial for pressure control and inverse analysis techniques. On the other hand, if the effect of the leakage on the governing equations is not taken into account, i.e. the loss of the flow axial momentum is not considered, significant errors can be introduced in the simulation of water distribution systems. In this paper, the governing equations for a pipe with a leak are derived. The basic equations, obtained within different approaches, are presented in a consistent formulation and then compared with the results of some experimental tests. The leak jet angle and other major features of the results are analysed. The estimated values of the parameters can be used in the water distribution network models when pipes with a diffuse leakage are considered.