In recent years, university departments in the United Kingdom have been externally rated according to their effectiveness in terms of research excellence. Organizational science research into the determinants of effective organizational performance has suggested a link between climate and effectiveness. This study therefore investigated this possible link by examining the relationship between university departmental climate and research excellence rating. A longitudinal design was used which involved gathering climate data from academics in 46 departments in 14 universities in 1992 and again in 1994. These climate measures were related to external Higher Education Funding Council ratings of research excellence made in 1989 and 1992. These departmental ratings predicted subsequent departmental climate, particularly in members' descriptions of degree of formalization, support for career development and support for innovation. Dimensions of climate, however, did not predict as strongly subsequent research excellence rating. It appears that climate may be an outcome as much as a cause of rated effectiveness, at least in this context.