Thermal issues associated with electric vehicle battery packs can significantly affect performance and life cycle. Fundamental heat transfer principles and performance characteristics of commercial lithium-ion battery are used to predict the temperature distributions in a typical battery pack under a range of discharge conditions. Various cooling strategies are implemented to examine the relationship between battery thermal behavior and design parameters. By studying the effect of cooling conditions and pack configuration on battery temperature, information is obtained as to how to maintain operating temperature by designing proper battery configuration and choosing proper cooling systems. It was found that a cooling strategy based on distributed forced convection is an efficient, cost-effective method which can provide uniform temperature and voltage distributions within the battery pack at various discharge rates. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.