Indian southwest monsoon rainfall (ISMR) has strong links with El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). However, sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies during the pre-monsoon season do not have any predictive value for ensuing monsoon rainfalls. Recent studies have suggested that warm water volume (WWV) in the tropical Pacific Ocean in boreal winter is a good precursor of ENSO warm and cold events (El Niño and La Niña). In this study, we have analyzed inter-annual variations in the WWV in the tropical Pacific Ocean and Indian summer monsoon rainfall (ISMR) using upper ocean thermal field analyses spanning 54 years (1950–2003). Significant negative correlations have been observed between WWV anomalies in the boreal winter and spring seasons and ISMR, with deficient (excess) monsoon years corresponding to positive (negative) WWV anomalies. This relationship provides a much longer lead time than ENSO SST indicators for prediction of ensuing monsoon rainfall. Twenty-one year moving correlations show that the correlation between WWV anomalies in boreal winter and spring and subsequent ISMR anomalies has strengthened since the mid-1980s.