In this paper, three satellite derived precipitation datasets (TRMM, CMORPH, PERSIANN) are used to drive the Hillslope River Routing (HRR) model in the Congo Basin. The precipitation data are compared spatially and temporally in two forms: (1) precipitation magnitudes, and (2) resulting streamflow and water storages. Simulated streamflow is assessed using historical monthly discharge data from in situ stream gauges and recent stage data based on water surface elevations derived from ENVISAT radar altimetry data. Simulated total water storage is assessed using monthly storage change values derived from GRACE data. The results show that the three precipitation datasets vary significantly in terms of magnitudes but generally produce a reasonable hydrograph throughout much of the basin, with the exception of the equatorial regions of the watershed. The satellite datasets provide unreasonably high values for specific periods (e.g. all three in Oct–Nov; only CMORPH and PERSIANN in Mar–Apr) in the equatorial regions. Overall, TRMM (3B42) provides the best spatial and temporal distributions and magnitudes or rainfall based on the assessment measures used here. Both CMORPH and PERSIANN tend to overestimate magnitudes, especially in the equatorial regions of the Basin. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.