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The first simulation experiment and output archives of the Project to Intercompare Regional Climate Simulations (PIRCS) is described. Initial results from simulations of the summer 1988 drought over the central United States indicate that limited-area models forced by large-scale information at the lateral boundaries reproduce bulk temporal and spatial characteristics of meteorological fields. In particular, the 500 hPa height field time average and temporal variability are generally well simulated by all participating models. Model simulations of precipitation episodes vary depending on the scale of the dynamical forcing. Organized synoptic-scale precipitation systems are simulated deterministically in that precipitation occurs at close to the same time and location as observed (although amounts may vary from observations). Episodes of mesoscale and convective precipitation are represented in a more stochastic sense, with less precise agreement in temporal and spatial patterns. Simulated surface energy fluxes show broad similarity with the First International Satellite Land Surface Climatology Project (ISLSCP) Field Experiment (FIFE) observations in their temporal evolution and time average diurnal cycle. Intermodel differences in midday Bowen ratio tend to be closely associated with precipitation differences. Differences in daily maximum temperatures also are linked to Bowen ratio differences, indicating strong local, surface influence on this field. Although some models have bias with respect to FIFE observations, all tend to reproduce the synoptic variability of observed daily maximum and minimum temperatures. Results also reveal the advantage of an intercomparison in exposing common tendencies of models despite their differences in convective and surface parameterizations and different methods of assimilating lateral boundary conditions.