The global mean surface temperature (GMST) response of HadCM3 to a 1,000 year 4×CO2 forcing is analysed using a transfer function methodology. We identify a third order transfer function as being an appropriate characterisation of the dynamic relationship between the radiative forcing input and GMST output of this Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Model (A-OGCM). From this transfer function the equilibrium climate sensitivity is estimated as 4.62 (3.92–11.88) K which is significantly higher than previously estimated for HadCM3. The response is also characterised by time constants of 4.5 (3.2–6.4), 140 (78–191) and 1,476 (564–11,737) years. The fact that the longest time constant element is significantly longer than the 1,000 year simulation run makes estimation of this element of the response problematic, highlighting the need for significantly longer model runs to express A-OGCM behaviour fully. The transfer function is interpreted in relation to a three box global energy balance model. It was found that this interpretation gave rise to three fractions of ocean heat capacity with effective depths of 63.0 (46.7–85.4), 1291.7 (787.3–2,955.3) and 2,358.0 (661.3–17,283.8) meters of seawater, associated with three discrete time constants of 4.6 (3.2–6.5), 107.7 (68.9–144.3) and 537.1 (196.2–1,243.1) years. Given this accounts for approximately 94% of the ocean heat capacity in HadCM3, it appears HadCM3 could be significantly more well mixed than previously thought when viewed on the millennial timescale.