A method has been developed for the identification of the viscoelastic characteristics of compact bone using transient response information obtained from the split-Hopkinson pressure-bar (SHPB) test. The method combines the solution procedures of two problems One is the identification (or inverse) problem and the other is the associated problem, i. e., the prediction (or direct) problem of stress wave propagation in the SHPB. The solutions are accomplished by means of the method of Laplace transformation and Gauss-Newton iterative scheme for nonlinear least squares problems. Numerical experiments are performed to demonstrate the validity of the method established. The method is also applied to the SHPB experiments on bovine femoral compact bone (plexiform bone), assuming that the mechanical behavior of the bone can be represented by the three-element standard linear solid model. The applicability of the model to the bone is also discussed and the orientational dependence of the viscoelastic characteristics of the bone is determined.