Piezoelectric composite cylindrical shells operating in a steady state axisymmetric temperature are analyzed using a semi-analytical finite element method. Numerical studies are conducted on a clamped-clamped composite cylindrical shell for three typical length to radius ratios. The static thermal buckling analysis is carried out for a single layered composite cylindrical shell with different fiber orientation and hence study its influence on thermal buckling temperature. The influence of axisymmetric temperature on the natural frequencies and active damping ratio of the piezoelectric cylindrical shell is also examined. Two configurations of composite laminates: symmetric and antisymmetric with varying the number of plies is also considered to examine the effect on thermal buckling temperature. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.