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This paper describes the principle of a new current differential relay developed for a 1000-kV UHV transmission line that is being constructed in China. The distributed capacitive current along the relatively long overhead line will have a significant effect on the relay performance and should be taken into account in the relay principle. The study results in a new current differential relay based on the steady state transmission line equations, in which the distributed capacitive current is inherently represented. Analysis is carried out for different practical situations where shunt reactors or series capacitors are present in the system for compensation. Laboratory tests show that the relay principle developed in this study can be used as a main protection scheme for the 1000-kV UHV transmission line.