It is generally assumed that flows around wall-mounted sharp-edged bluff bodies submerged in thick turbulent boundary layers are essentially independent of the Reynolds number Re, provided that this exceeds some (2–3) × 104. (Re is based on the body height and upstream velocity at that height.) This is a particularization of the general principle of Reynolds-number similarity and it has important implications, most notably that it allows model scale testing in wind tunnels of, for example, atmospheric flows around buildings. A significant part of the literature on wind engineering thus describes work which implicitly rests on the validity of this assumption. This paper presents new wind-tunnel data obtained in the ‘classical’ case of thick fully turbulent boundary-layer flow over a surface-mounted cube, covering an Re range of well over an order of magnitude (that is, a factor of 22). The results are also compared with new field data, providing a further order of magnitude increase in Re. It is demonstrated that if on the one hand the flow around the obstacle does not contain strong concentrated-vortex motions (like the delta-wing-type motions present for a cube oriented at 45° to the oncoming flow), Re effects only appear on fluctuating quantities such as the r.m.s. fluctuating surface pressures. If, on the other hand, the flow is characterized by the presence of such vortex motions, Re effects are significant even on mean-flow quantities such as the mean surface pressures or the mean velocities near the surfaces. It is thus concluded that although, in certain circumstances and for some quantities, the Reynolds-number-independency assumption is valid, there are other important quantities and circumstances for which it is not.