To what extent tropical forest persisted in the Malay-Thai Peninsula during the Last Glacial Maximum, or contracted southwards with subsequent post-glacial expansion, has long been debated. These competing scenarios might be expected to have left contrasting broad spatial patterns of diversity of forest-dependent taxa. To test for a post-glacial northward spread of forest, we examined latitudinal clines of forest-dependent bat species at 15 forest sites across Peninsular Malaysia. From captures of 3776 insectivorous forest bats, we found that low richness characterized the north of the study area: predicted richness of 9–16 species, compared with 21–23 in the south. Predicted species richness decreased significantly with increasing latitude, but showed no relationship with either seasonality or peninsula width. Analyses of beta-diversity showed that differences between communities were not related to geographical distance, although there was evidence of greater differences in species numbers between the most distant sites. Assemblages were consistently dominated by six cave-roosting species from the families Rhinolophidae and Hipposideridae, while another 16 species were consistently rare. We suggest that these observed patterns are consistent with the hypothesized northward expansion of tropical rain forest since the Last Glacial Maximum, but emphasize that more surveys in the extreme north and south of the peninsula are required to support this assertion.