The dispersion of a passive scalar (temperature) from a concentrated line source in fully developed, high-aspect-ratio turbulent channel flow is studied herein. The line source is oriented in the direction of the inhomogeneity of the velocity field, resulting in a thermal plume that is statistically three-dimensional. This configuration is selected to investigate the lateral dispersion of a passive scalar in an inhomogeneous turbulent flow (i.e. dispersion in planes parallel to the channel walls). Measurements are recorded at six wall-normal distances (y/h = 0.10, 0.17, 0.33, 0.50, 0.67 and 1.0), six downstream positions (x/h = 4.0, 7.4, 10.8, 15.2, 18.6 and 22.0) and a Reynolds number of Re ≡ 〈U〉y = hh/v = 10200 (Reτ ≡ u∗h/v = 502). The lateral mean temperature excess profiles were found to be well represented by Gaussian distributions. The root-mean-square (r.m.s.) profiles, on the other hand, were symmetric, but non-Gaussian. Consistent with homogeneous flows (and in contrast to the work of Lavertu & Mydlarski (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 528, 2005, p. 135) studying transverse dispersion in the same flow), (i) the downstream growth rate of the centreline mean temperature excess, centreline r.m.s. temperature fluctuation and half-width of the mean and r.m.s. temperature profiles followed a power law evolution in the downstream direction, and (ii) the r.m.s. profiles evolved from single-peaked to double-peaked profiles far downstream. By comparing the measured ratios of the centreline r.m.s. temperature fluctuation to the mean temperature excess to the ratios measured in other flows, it was hypothesized that the mean-flow shear, as well as the turbulence intensity, played an important, cooperative role in increasing the mixedness of the flow. The probability density functions (PDFs) were quasi-Gaussian near the wall as well as for large-enough downstream distances. Closer to both the source and the channel centreline, the PDFs were better approximated by exponential distributions, with a sharp peak corresponding to the free-stream temperature. For intermediate downstream distances, the PDFs of the lateral dispersion were better mixed than analogous PDFs of the transverse dispersion, consistent with the mixedness measurements.