Single–species populations of ciliates (Colpidium and Paramecium) experienced constant temperature or white or reddened temperature fluctuations in aquatic microcosms in order to test three hypotheses about how environmental colour influences population dynamics. (i) Models predict that the colour of population dynamics is tinged by the colour of the environmental variability. However, environmental colour had no effect on the colour of population dynamics. All population dynamics in this experiment were reddened, regardless of environmental colour. (ii) Models predict that populations will track reddened environmental variability more closely than white environmental variability and that populations with a higher intrinsic growth rate (r) will track environmental variability more closely than populations with a low r. The experimental populations behaved as predicted. (iii) Models predict that population variability is determined by interaction between r and the environmental variability. The experimental populations behaved as predicted. These results show that (i) reddened population dynamics may need no special explanation, such as reddened environments, spatial subdivision or interspecific interactions, and (ii) and (iii) that population dynamics are sensitive to environmental colour, in agreement with population models. Correct specification of the colour of the environmental variability in models is required for accurate predictions. Further work is needed to study the effects of environmental colour on communities and ecosystems.