A lumped parameter dynamic model is developed for predicting the stack temperature, temperatures of the exit reactant gases and coolant water outlet in a proton-exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) system. A dynamic model for a water pump is also developed and can be used along with the thermal model to control the stack temperature. The thermal and water pump models are integrated with the air flow compressor and PEMFC stack current-voltage models developed by Pukrushpan et al. to study the fuel cell system under open and closed-loop conditions. The results obtained for the aforementioned variables from open-loop simulation studies are found to be similar to the experimental values reported in the literature. Closed-loop simulations using the model are carried out to study the effect of stack temperature on settling times of other variables such as stack voltage, air flow rate, oxygen excess ratio and net power of the stack. Further, interaction studies are performed for selecting appropriate input-output pairs for control purpose. Finally, the developed thermal model can assist the designer in choosing the required number of cooling plates to minimize the difference between the cooling water outlet temperature and stack temperature. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.