The mechanical performance of cemented paste backfill (CPB) placed in underground openings (e.g., mine stopes) often differs from laboratory-predicted performance, even under the same atmospheric curing conditions (ambient temperature and relative humidity). This is probably due to the specific self-weight consolidation, different drainage conditions and confinement pressures encountered in the paste backfilled stopes. A new test system named CUAPS (Curing Under Applied Pressure System) was designed at the Universite du Quebec en Abitibi-Temiscamingue (UQAT) to assess the hydro-mechanical performance of in situ CPB samples at laboratory scale. The CUAPS apparatus allows the effective curing of CPB samples subjected to an assortment of vertical pressure applications (curing under stresses) that can mimic in situ placement and consolidation conditions. The compressive strength development of CPB samples prepared from sulphide-rich mine tailings from Garpenberg polymetallic mine (Sweden) was investigated using CUAPS apparatus and conventional plastic moulds (unconsolidated undrained samples) in parallel. The effect of curing stress (i.e. simulating different consolidation conditions) on resultant geotechnical index parameters and hydromechanical properties of CPB samples was analyzed. The primary observation is the confirmation that the compressive strength development of the consolidated CPB samples is higher than that of unconsolidated undrained ones. It could be attributed to the removal of excess pore water mainly due to the applied pressure during the effective curing process, which seems to improve consolidation process of the CPB material. The results also account for the differences in the CPB strength observed between laboratory samples and in situ samples. Thus, CUAPS would be more suitable than conventional plastic moulds to collect data for preliminary and final design of CPB systems. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.