This paper addresses nonlinear effects which result from the interaction of shock waves with vortices. A series of experiments are carried out, which involve the interaction of a strong shock wave with a single plane vorticity wave and a randomly distributed wave system. These experiments are first conducted in the linear regime to obtain a mutual verification of theory and computation. They are subsequently extended into the nonlinear regime. A systematic study of the interaction of a plane shock wave and a single vortex is then conducted. Specifically, we investigate the conditions under which nonlinear effects become important, both as a function of shock Mach number, M1, and incident vortex strength (characterized by its circulation Γ). The shock Mach number is varied from 2 to 8, while the circulation of the vortex is varied from infinitesimally small values (linear theory) to unity. Budgets of vorticity, dilatation, and pressure are obtained. They indicate that nonlinear effects become more significant as both the shock Mach number and the circulation increase. For Mach numbers equal to 5 and above, the dilatation in the vortex core grows quadratically with circulation. An acoustic wave propagates radially outward from the vortex center. As circulation increases, its upstream-facing front steepens at low Mach numbers, and its downstream-facing front steepens at high Mach numbers. A high Mach number asymptotic expansion of the Rankine--Hugoniot conditions reveals that nonlinear effects dominate both the shock motion and the downstream flow for ΓM1 > 1.