Abstract The tube-array structures coupled both with the fluid and the axial load is focused. In a heat exchanger, the tubes are frequently affected by cold and hot fluid shock waves. Thus, tubes are often found to be vibrated and even to be worn out. This vibration may not only alter the performance of the tubes but also introduce the damage in the heat exchanger. In this work, the dynamic properties of coupled tube-array structures with the axial loads are investigated. Futher, the tube-array structures in a heat exchanger, consisting of periodic cooling tubes are also considered to simulate as a coupled periodic structure system. It is found that each tube of the system is weakly coupled to the adjacent tube via water. By using the Galerkin method, the equations of the coupled system with the fluid effect can be derived. Numerical results reveal that the axial load and fluid effects may influence the dynamic properties of a fluid coupled tube-array structures system of a heat exchanger significantly.