Paleoclimatic records from Mesoamerica document the interplay between Atlantic and Pacific sources of precipitation during the last glacial stage and Holocene. Today, and throughout much of the Holocene, the entire region receives its principal moisture in the summer from an interaction of easterly trade winds with the equatorial calms. Glacial records from sites east of 95?? W in Guatemala, Florida, northern Venezuela and Colombia record dry conditions before 12 ka, however. West of 95?? W, glacial conditions were moister than in the Holocene. For example, pollen and diatom data show that Lake Pa??tzcuaro in the central Mexican highlands was cool, deep and fresh during this time and fossil pinyon needles in packrat middens in Chihuahua, Sonora, Arizona, and Texas indicate cooler glacial climates with increased winter precipitation. Cold Gulf of Mexico sea-surface temperatures and reduced strength of the equatorial calms can explain arid full and late glacial environments east of 95?? W whereas an intensified pattern of winter, westerly air flow dominated hydrologic balances as far south as 20?? N. Overall cooler temperatures may have increased effective moisture levels during dry summer months in both areas. ?? 1997 INQUA/ Elsevier Science Ltd.