In addition to direct fire cues such as heat, smoke and charred wood, the passage of fire leads indirectly to changes in environmental conditions which may be able to break physical dormancy in hard-coated seeds. After a fire, the open canopy and the burnt material lying on the surface alter the thermal properties of the soil, resulting in elevated soil temperatures for long periods of time. We simulated daily temperature regimes experienced at different depths of soil profile after a summer fire. Our aim was to determine whether these temperature regimes and the duration of exposure (5, 15 and 30 days) play an important role breaking physical seed dormancy in six legumes from south-eastern Australia. Our results showed that simulated temperature regimes break seed dormancy. This effect is specially pronounced at temperatures that are expected to occur near the soil surface (0-2 cm depth). The duration of exposure interacts with temperature to break dormancy, with the highest germination rates reached after the longest duration and highest temperatures. However, the germination response varied among species. Therefore, this indirect post-fire cue could play a role in the regeneration of plant communities, and could stimulate seedling emergence independent of direct fire cues as well as in interaction with direct cues. © 2010 CSIRO.