Most computer models of human thermoregulation are population based. Here, we individualised the Fiala model [Fiala et al. (2001) Int J Biometeorol 45:143-159] with respect to anthropometrics, body fat, and metabolic rate. The predictions of the adapted multisegmental thermoregulatory model were compared with measured skin temperatures of individuals. Data from two experiments, in which reclining subjects were suddenly exposed to mild to moderate cold environmental conditions, were used to study the effect on dynamic skin temperature responses. Body fat was measured by the three-compartment method combining underwater weighing and deuterium dilution. Metabolic rate was determined by indirect calorimetry. In experiment 1, the bias (mean difference) between predicted and measured mean skin temperature decreased from 1.8 degrees C to -0.15 degrees C during cold exposure. The standard deviation of the mean difference remained of the same magnitude (from 0.7 degrees C to 0.9 degrees C). In experiment 2 the bias of the skin temperature changed from 2.0+/-1.09 degrees C using the standard model to 1.3+/-0.93 degrees C using individual characteristics in the model. The inclusion of individual characteristics thus improved the predictions for an individual and led to a significantly smaller systematic error. However, a large part of the discrepancies in individual response to cold remained unexplained. Possible further improvements to the model accomplished by inclusion of more subject characteristics (i.e. body fat distribution, body shape) and model refinements on the level of (skin) blood perfusion, and control functions, are discussed.