Crossbreeding represents an important technique to improve growth, beef quality and adaptability in beef production systems in tropical countries. The aim of this study was to evaluate sire and dam breed effects on performance and carcass traits of crossbred cattle produced in a tropical environment. Heifers and steers were evaluated during the pre-weaning, the post-weaning (n = 173) and the finishing phase (n = 123). Animals were produced by mating Nellore (N_N), Angus × Nellore (A_N) and Caracu × Nellore (C_N) dams with Braford, Charbray and Caracu sires. After weaning, animals were raised grazing on Marandu grass for 12 months; thereafter they were housed in individual pens and finished in a feedlot, receiving a total mixed ration. Ultrasound carcass evaluations were performed to determine ribeye area (R_A), backfat thickness (B_T) and rump fat thickness (R_T). A_N progeny were heavier at birth than N_N (P < 0.05), and Braford progeny had greater birth BW than Caracu (P < 0.05). Greater weaning BW was observed in the A_N and C_N offspring compared to N_N (P < 0.01). Greater average daily gain during the post-weaning period was verified in the N_N progeny compared to C_N (P < 0.05). No dam or sire breed effects were observed for BW at the end of the post-weaning period (P > 0.05). Progeny of N_N cows had greater B_T (P < 0.05) and R_T (P < 0.01) at the end of the post-weaning period in relation to C_N. Greater R_A was observed in the Caracu progeny than in the Braford (P < 0.05), which showed greater R_T than the Charbray progeny at the end of the post-weaning period (P < 0.05). No dam or sire breed effects were verified for final BW at the feedlot or for feed efficiency traits (P > 0.05). A_N progeny were superior in final B_T compared to C_N (P < 0.01), and Braford progeny had greater R_T at the end of finishing than Charbray (P = 0.05). The use of crossbred dams allows an increase in productivity until weaning, but this is not maintained in the post-weaning and finishing periods. The use of Braford sires produces similar growth performance in the different stages of the production system to those seen with Charbray and Caracu sires but generates animals with higher fat thickness at the end of finishing, which may improve carcass quality and commercial value.