In this paper, the coupling of lateral and longitudinal vibrations due to the presence of transverse surface crack in a rotor is explored. A crack in a rotor is known to introduce coupling between lateral and longitudinal vibrations. Steady state unbalance response of a cracked rotor with a single centrally situated crack subjected to periodic axial impulses is investigated experimentally. The cracked rotor is excited axially using an electrodynamic exciter at a frequency equal to its bending natural frequency in both non-rotating and rotating conditions. The resulting time domain and frequency domain signals of the cracked rotor are studied. Spectral response of the cracked rotor with and without axial excitation is found to be distinctively different. When excited axially, it shows prominent presence of rotor bending natural frequency. However for an uncracked rotor, the response is similar with or without axial excitation. It is thus proposed that the response of the rotor to axial impulse excitation could be used for more reliable diagnosis of rotor cracks.