Variations in the poleward-directed Atlantic heat transfer was investigated over the past 135 ka with special emphasis on the last and present interglacial climate development (Eemian and Holocene). Both interglacials exhibited very similar climatic oscillations during each preceding glacial terminations (deglacial TI and TII). Like TI, also TII has pronounced cold–warm–cold changes akin to events such as H1, Bølling/Allerød, and the Younger Dryas. But unlike TI, the cold events in TII were associated with intermittent southerly invasions of an Atlantic faunal component which underscores quite a different water mass evolution in the Nordic Seas. Within the Eemian interglaciation proper, peak warming intervals were antiphased between the Nordic Seas and North Atlantic. Moreover, inferred temperatures for the Nordic Seas were generally colder in the Eemian than in the Holocene, and vice versa for the North Atlantic. A reduced intensity of Atlantic Ocean heat transfer to the Arctic therefore characterized the Eemian, requiring a reassessment of the actual role of the ocean–atmosphere system behind interglacial, but also, glacial climate changes.