In order to assess the fidelity of coral Sr/Ca for quantitative reconstructions of sea surface temperature variations, we have generated three monthly Sr/Ca time series from Porites corals from the lagoon of Peros Banhos (71°E, 5°S, Chagos Archipelago). We find that all three coral Sr/Ca time series are well correlated with instrumental records of sea surface temperature (SST) and air temperature. However, the intrinsic variance of the single-core Sr/Ca time series differs from core to core, limiting their use for quantitative estimates of past temperature variations. Averaging the single-core data improves the correlation with instrumental temperature (r > 0.7) and allows accurate estimates of interannual temperature variations (∼0.35°C or better). All Sr/Ca time series indicate a shift towards warmer temperatures in the mid-1970s, which coincides with the most recent regime shift in the Pacific Ocean. However, the magnitude of the warming inferred from coral Sr/Ca differs from core to core and ranges from 0.26 to 0.75°C. The composite Sr/Ca record from Peros Banhos clearly captures the major climatic signals in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, i.e. the El Niño-southern oscillation and the Pacific decadal oscillation. Moreover, composite Sr/Ca is highly correlated with tropical mean temperatures (r = 0.7), suggesting that coral Sr/Ca time series from the tropical Indian Ocean will contribute to multi-proxy reconstructions of tropical mean temperatures. © Springer-Verlag 2008.