Eighteen General Circulation Models (GCMs) are compared to reference data for the present, the Mid-Holocene (MH) and the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) for the Antarctic region. The climatology produced by a regional climate model is taken as a reference climate for the present. GCM results for the past are compared to ice-core data. The goal of this study is to find the best GCM that can be used to drive an ice sheet model that simulates the evolution of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Because temperature and precipitation are the most important climate variables when modelling the evolution of an ice sheet, these two variables are considered in this paper. This is done by ranking the models according to how well their output corresponds with the references. In general, present-day temperature is simulated well, but precipitation is overestimated compared to the reference data. Another finding is that model biases play an important role in simulating the past, as they are often larger than the change in temperature or precipitation between the past and the present. Considering the results for the present-day as well as for the MH and the LGM, the best performing models are HadCM3 and MIROC 3.2.2.