Projections of future changes in weather extremes on the regional and local scale depend on a realistic representation of trends in extremes in regional climate models (RCMs). We have tested this assumption for moderate high temperature extremes (the annual maximum of the daily maximum 2 m temperature, T-ann.max). Linear trends in T-ann.max from historical runs of 14 RCMs driven by atmospheric reanalysis data are compared with trends in gridded station data. The ensemble of RCMs significantly underestimates the observed trends over most of the north-western European land surface. Individual models do not fare much better, with even the best performing models underestimating observed trends over large areas. We argue that the inability of RCMs to reproduce observed trends is probably not due to errors in large-scale circulation. There is also no significant correlation between the RCM T-ann.max trends and trends in radiation or Bowen ratio. We conclude that care should be taken when using RCM data for adaptation decisions.