Recent studies have demonstrated that the aerothermal characteristics of turbine rotor blade tip under a transonic condition are qualitatively different from those under a low-speed subsonic condition. The cooling injection adds further complexity to the over-tip-leakage (OTL) transonic flow behavior and aerothermal performance, particularly for commonly studied shroudless tip configurations such as a squealer tip. However there has been no published experimental study of a cooled transonic squealer. The present study investigates the effect of cooling injection on a transonic squealer through a closely combined experimental and CFD effort. Part I of this two-part paper presents the first of the kind tip cooling experimental data obtained in a transonic linear cascade environment (exit Mach number 0.95). Transient thermal measurements are carried out for an uncooled squealer tip and six cooling configurations with different locations and numbers of discrete holes. High-resolution distributions of heat transfer coefficient and cooling effectiveness are obtained. ansysFluent is employed to perform numerical simulations for all the experimental cases. The mesh and turbulence modeling dependence is first evaluated before further computational studies are carried out. Both the experimental and computational results consistently illustrate strong interactions between the OTL flow and cooling injection. When the cooling injection (even with a relatively small amount) is introduced, distinctive series of stripes in surface heat transfer coefficient are observed with an opposite trend in the chordwise variations on the squealer cavity floor and on the suction surface rim. Both experimental and CFD results have also consistently shown interesting signatures of the strong OTL flow–cooling interactions in terms of the net heat flux reduction distribution in areas seemingly unreachable by the coolant. Further examinations and analyses of the related flow physics and underlining vortical flow structures will be presented in Part II.