Genetic selection for body temperature during heat stress might be a useful approach to reduce the magnitude of heat stress effects on production and reproduction. Objectives of the study were to estimate the genetic parameters of rectal temperature (PT) in dairy cows in freestall barns under heat stress conditions and to determine the genetic and phenotypic correlations of rectal temperature with other traits. Afternoon PT were measured in a total of 1,695 lactating Holstein cows sired by 509 bulls during the summer in North Florida.. Genetic parameters were estimated with Gibbs sampling, and best linear unbiased predictions of breeding values were predicted using an animal model. The heritability of RT was estimated to be 0.17 +/- 0.13. Predicted transmitting abilities for rectal temperature changed 0.0068 +/- 0.0020 degrees C/yr from (birth year) 2002 to 2008. Approximate genetic correlations between RT and 305-d milk, fat, and protein yields, productive life, and net merit were significant and positive; whereas approximate genetic correlations between TIT and somatic cell count score and daughter pregnancy rate were significant and negative. Rectal temperature during heat stress has moderate heritability, but genetic correlations with economically important traits mean that selection for RT could lead to lower productivity unless methods are used to identify genes affecting RT that do not adversely affect other traits of economic importance.