The Mid-Pliocene is the most recent interval of sustained global warmth, which can be used to examine conditions predicted for the near future. An accurate spatial representation of the low-latitude Mid-Pliocene Pacific surface ocean is necessary to understand past climate change in the light of forecasts of future change. Mid-Pliocene sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies show a strong contrast between the western equatorial Pacific (WEP) and eastern equatorial Pacific (EEP) regardless of proxy (faunal, alkenone and Mg/Ca). All WEP sites show small differences from modern mean annual temperature, but all EEP sites show significant positive deviation from present-day temperatures by as much as 4.4??C. Our reconstruction reflects SSTs similar to modern in the WEP, warmer than modern in the EEP and eastward extension of the WEP warm pool. The east-west equatorial Pacific SST gradient is decreased, but the pole to equator gradient does not change appreciably. We find it improbable that increased greenhouse gases (GHG) alone would cause such a heterogeneous warming and more likely that the cause of Mid-Pliocene warmth is a combination of several forcings including both increased meridional heat transport and increased GHG. ?? 2008 The Royal Society.