In previous comparative studies of buffaloes and temperate cattle, a greater increase in rectal temperature (RT) and skin temperature (ST), and a greater decrease in haematocrit (Ht) have been observed in buffaloes than in temperate cattle with an increase in ambient temperature (AT). Our series of previous experiments suggested that great changes in RT, ST and Ht are induced in buffaloes by a marked increase in blood flow from the body core to the surface, which accelerates dissipation of heat from the skin surface. On the basis of these suggestions, the present study was undertaken to compare fluctuations in RT, ST and Ht between buffaloes and tropical cattle. Fluctuations in the aforementioned parameters, particularly RT and Ht, were greater in buffaloes than in cattle. Moreover, the correlation for RT or Ht v. AT was significant for buffaloes (r=0·33 and −0·37, respectively) but not for cattle. The correlation coefficient for ST v. AT was significant in both species, but was greater in buffaloes (r=0·63) than in cattle (r=0·56). These results demonstrate that with changes in ambient temperature, RT, ST and Ht fluctuate much more in buffaloes than in tropical cattle, as found previously for temperate cattle. Therefore, the distinctive thermoregulatory responses of buffalo are confirmed as being specific to this species.