This paper describes a combined theoretical and experimental study of thermal comfort during the heating period inside an automobile. To investigate the effects of thermal conditions on the human physiology and thermal comfort during the heating period, temperature, humidity and air velocity were measured at a number of points inside the automobile, so thermal conditions were accurately determined. The human body was divided into 16 sedentary segments, and the change of temperature was observed both experimentally and theoretically. During transient conditions of the heating period, heat and mass transfer between the human body and the interior environment of an automobile were simulated by a computational model, and predictions were compared with the measured data. It is shown that there is a good agreement between the model predictions and experimental results. By means of the present model, the effects of the fast transient conditions of the heating period on the sensible and latent heat transfer from the body, body segments skin temperatures and thermal sensation were investigated in detail. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.