A finite element method employing Galerkin's approach is developed to analyze free convection heat transfer in axisymmetric fluid saturated porous bodies. The method is used to study the effect of aspect ratio and radius ratio on Nusselt number in the case of a proous cylindrical annulus. Two cases of isothermal and convective boundary conditions are considered. The Nusselt number is always found to increase with radius ratio and Rayleigh number. It exhibits a maximum when the aspect ratio is around unity; maximum shifts towards lesser aspect ratios as Rayleigh number increases. Results are compared with those in the literature, wherever available, and the agreement is found to be good. © 1995, MCB UP Limited.