The solutions of advection–dispersion equation in single fractures were carefully reviewed, and their relationships were addressed. The classic solution, which represents the resident or flux concentration within the semi-infinite fractures under constant concentration or flux boundary conditions, respectively, describes the effluent concentration for a finite fracture. In addition, it also predicts the cumulative distribution of solute particle residence time passing through a single fracture under pulse injection condition, based on which a particle tracking approach was developed to simulate the local advection–dispersion in single fractures. We applied the proposed method to investigate the influence of local dispersion in single fractures on the macrodispersion in different fracture systems with relatively high fracture density. The results show that the effects of local dispersion on macrodispersion are dependent on the heterogeneity of fracture system, but generally the local dispersion plays limited roles on marodispersion at least in dense fracture network. This trend was in agreement with the macrodispersion in heterogeneous porous media. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.