We have incorporated a semi-mechanistic isoprene emission module into the JULES land-surface scheme, as a first step towards a modelling tool that can be applied for studies of vegetation-atmospheric chemistry interactions, including chemistry-climate feedbacks. Here, we evaluate the coupled model against local above-canopy isoprene emission flux measurements from six flux tower sites as well as satellite-derived estimates of isoprene emission over tropical South America and east and south Asia. The model simulates diurnal variability well: correlation coefficients are significant (at the 95 % level) for all flux tower sites. The model reproduces day-to-day variability with significant correlations (at the 95 % confidence level) at four of the six flux tower sites. At the UMBS site, a complete set of seasonal observations is available for two years (2000 and 2002). The model reproduces the seasonal pattern of emission during 2002, but does less well in the year 2000. The model overestimates observed emissions at all sites, which is partially because it does not include isoprene loss through the canopy. Comparison with the satellite-derived isoprene-emission estimates suggests that the model simulates the main spatial patterns, seasonal and inter-annual variability over tropical regions. The model yields a global annual isoprene emission of 535 ± 9 TgC yr-1 during the 1990s, 78 % of which from forested areas.