Responses of large volcanic eruptions in selected long temperature series from Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany as well as in three global radiation series in Central Europe are studied. In the example of seven large tropical eruptions (Krakatau 1883; Pelée, Soufriére and Santa María 1902; Agung, 1963; El Chichón, 1982; Mt Pinatubo, 1991) it has been demonstrated that volcanic signal in regional series is not so strongly expressed as in the hemispheric scale owing to different local effects and circulation patterns. This is also valid in the case of two further discussed eruptions of Tambora (1815) and Katmai (1912). The responses of eruptions in areas closer to Central Europe such as Iceland or Italy are more important. In nine analysed cases with VEI = 4–5 with a single exception of the Hekla eruption (1917), cold seasons were observed to follow the eruption. Responses to the Lakagígar eruption (1783) of Iceland with important impacts are also discussed in detail. Moreover, correlation between temperatures (annual and winter half-year series) and NAOI is prevailingly smaller for the period following eruptions than in the period preceding eruptions. The importance of documentary evidence as a valuable source of the information about the impacts of volcanic eruptions is demonstrated. Copyright © 2006 Royal Meteorological Society.