The Holocene climate evolution in Northern Africa is studied in a 9000-yr-long transient simulation with a coupled atmosphere-ocean-vegetation model forced by changes in insolation and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. The model simulates in the monsoonal domains a significant decrease in precipitation under influence of the orbitally forced reduction in summer insolation. In the Western Sahara region, the simulated mid-Holocene transition from humid to arid conditions (the termination of the African Humid Period) is highly non-linear with the occurrence of centennial-scale climate fluctuations due to the biogeophysical feedback between precipitation and vegetation cover. This result is in agreement with proxy data from the Western Sahara region. The other monsoonal regions experience a more gradual climate evolution that linearly follows the insolation forcing, which appears in disagreement with available lake level records. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.