This paper investigates empirically the use of short-term bank loans by firms. We face two analytical frameworks. According to the corporate finance theory, short-term and long-term ebts are substitutes, while in the credit channel literature they are distinct and complementary vehicles. We estimate a model that explains the level of short-term bank debt, using panel data from the BACH database for six European countries (1989-2003). Our results indicate that the two types of bank loans are complements. They show that short-term bank debt should be analysed as a specific vehicle that finances current assets, as in the credit channel literature.