In this paper, which reports on part of the BALTEX project, various components of the heat balance over the Baltic Sea are calculated using a number of gridded meteorological databases. It is the heat exchange between the Baltic Sea surface and the atmosphere that is of interest. The databases have different origins, comprising synoptic data, data re-analysed with a 3D assimilation system, an ocean model forced with gridded synoptic data, ship data and satellite data. We compared the databases and found that the greatest variation between them is in the long- and short-wave radiation values. However, considerable upward long-wave radiation is followed by considerable downward short-wave radiation, so the total radiation component is partly compensated for in the total budget. The variation in the total heat transport in the databases therefore appears smaller (1.5±3 W m−2) as the average and one standard deviation. The turbulent heat fluxes estimated from satellite data have very low values; this can largely be explained by the method of calculating air temperature, which also produces an unrealistic stratification over the Baltic Sea. The ERA40 data was compared with measured values: there, we found a certain land influence even in the centre of the Baltic proper. The indicated turbulent heat fluxes were too large, mainly in the fall and winter, and the sensible heat flux was too large in a downward direction in spring and summer.