Global warming and energy shortage have aroused a great interest in climate responsive strategies of vernacular dwellings during recent years. This study focuses on a qualitative analysis of ancient dwellings located in the village of Xinye, in the hot summer and cold winter region of China. Furthermore, a typical ancient dwelling located in the village was selected for assessment of its indoor thermal environment on the basis of an on-site monitoring, carried out in summer and winter. Whole annual thermal performance of the dwelling was also investigated using EnergyPlus simulations. The field measurements were used to outline the effectiveness of the climate responsive strategies. According to the analysis, the climate responsive strategies of the dwellings are mainly focused on natural ventilation, sun shading and thermal insulation, illustrated by different building aspects such as the building location, building group layout and orientation, internal space arrangement, opening design and among other variables. Thermal simulations reveal that the traditional dwelling located in Xinye village is well adapted to the local climate during summertime, although the indoor thermal comfort is not fully satisfactory during wintertime. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.