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The thermal contact resistance of polymer-based carbon fiber composites was calculated from experimental thermal conductivity values. Thermal conductivity of the composites increases as the fiber content increases. In order to explain the variation with size and volume fraction of the conductive inclusions in the composite, an effective medium model, which includes the effect of interfacial thermal resistance, was applied. Two different geometries for the fiber distribution in the matrix were considered. The calculated thermal contact resistance obtained from the effective medium models is in good agreement with the theoretical predictions. Once tested and validated, these models can also contribute to evaluate the best choice of materials for composite production, as maximum values for the thermal conductivity can be estimated. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.