Piston ring is one of the most important sealing components that can be easily damaged in reciprocating compressors. The severe non-uniformity of the pressure distribution was suggested to be the essential reason for the premature failure of the piston rings. Therefore, a test rig was set up to measure the pressure distributions as well as the build-up of the dynamic pressure difference, which could reveal the root cause for the non-uniformity of the pressure distributions. The results showed that the build-ups of the pressure differences between different rings were not simultaneous; there existed a threshold pressure, and the latter ring could work only when the pressure before the former ring reached to the threshold value. The pressure distributions were also investigated at the start-up and shut-down of the compressor, which further validated the cause of the premature failure of the first ring.