Middle Pliocene marine ostracodes from coastal and shelf deposits of North and Central America and Iceland were studied to reconstruct paleotemperatures of shelf waters bordering portions of the Western Boundary Current System (including the Gulf Loop Current, Florida Current, Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Drift). Factor analytic transfer functions provided Pliocene August and February bottom-water temperatures of eight regions from the tropics to the subfrigid. The results indicate: (1) meridional temperature gradients in the western North Atlantic were less steep during the Pliocene than either today or during Late Pleistocene Isotope Stage 5e; (2) tropical and subtropical shelf waters during the Middle Pliocene were as warm as, or slightly cooler than today; (3) slightly cooler water was on the outer shelf off the southeastern and mid-Atlantic coast of the U.S., possibly due to summer upwelling of Gulf Stream water; (4) the shelf north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina may have been influenced by warm water incursions from the western edge of the Gulf Stream, especially in summer; (5) the northeast branch of the North Atlantic Drift brought warm water to northern Iceland between 4 and 3 Ma; evidence from the Iceland record indicates that cold East Greenland Current water did not affect coastal Iceland between 4 and 3 Ma; (6) Middle Pliocene North Atlantic circulation may have been intensified, transporting more heat from the tropics to the Arctic than it does today. ?? 1991.