An absolute testing method for cylindrical surfaces is presented in a null test setup with a computer-generated hologram. The absolute test exploits the symmetry of cylinders, which allows us to introduce a certain shift of the test surface both parallel to and rotated about the centerline while the null test condition is still maintained. With two shifts of the cylindrical surface, four measurements belonging to two groups in conjugate positions can be accomplished to obtain the absolute differential map with the interferometer and null optics errors removed. The absolute surface can be obtained by wavefront reconstruction from local differential data. A simulation of the method is presented to estimate the error propagation. Experimental absolute test results of a concave cylindrical surface with 100-mm radius are given. The measured profiles are compared with those obtained from a commercial profiler, showing a difference of less than 15 nm (root-mean-square).