The flow of hot fluid having a harmonic component superposed on the mean flow velocity is considered flowing through an insulated cylindrical shell. The cylindrical shell will be subjected to thermal load due to the flow of hot fluid. The semi-analytical finite element forms the basis for modelling the structural continuum under the influence of temperature and the flowing fluid. The fluid flowing through the cylindrical shell is incompressible and linear potential flow theory is used to formulate the fluid domain. Bernoulli's principle and impermeability conditions of the fluid are the basis for a coupled fluid-structure interaction analysis. Model reduction technique in conjunction with the fourth order Runge-Kutta method using Gill's coefficient is adopted to compute the state transition matrix which provides the stability information of the periodic system. The results of the theoretical studies are presented related to instability regions due to a pulsatile flow of hot fluid through a cylindrical shell. Hot fluid at various magnitude of constant temperature limited by the critical thermal buckling temperature is considered in the study. The effect of fluid temperature and excitation parameter on the behavior of dynamic instability of the system is examined. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.