The limited area model MAR (Modèle Atmosphérique Régional) is validated over the Antarctic Plateau for the period 2004–2006, focussing on Dome C during the cold season. MAR simulations are made by initializing the model once and by forcing it through its lateral and top boundaries by the ECMWF operational analyses. Model outputs compare favourably with observations from automatic weather station (AWS), radiometers and atmospheric soundings. MAR is able to simulate the succession of cold and warm events which occur at Dome C during winter. Larger longwave downwelling fluxes (LWD) are responsible for higher surface air temperatures and weaker surface inversions during winter. Warm events are better simulated when the small Antarctic precipitating snow particles are taken into account in radiative transfer computations. MAR stratosphere cools during the cold season, with the coldest temperatures occurring in conjunction with warm events at the surface. The decrease of saturation specific humidity associated with these coldest temperatures is responsible for the formation of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) especially in August-September. PSCs then contribute to the surface warming by increasing the surface downwelling longwave flux.