The paper provides the data collected over a three-year period to illustrate the dynamic air gap change depending on generation modes of four hydropower generators with similar design. The tests were performed on hydropower units at the rated apparent power of 105 MVA and the air gap of 20 mm. The results obtained showed that the average air gap change in different modes could reach up to 2.1 mm. Around 90 % of air gap change results from thermal expansion and 10 % were determined by centrifugal and magnetic forces. In coasting mode when the power was switched off and the angular velocity of the generator decreased, the air gap increased up to 0.7 mm. Attraction forces resulting from magnetic phenomena accounted for 0.1–0.6 mm decrease in the air gap.