The hydration of cement is an exothermic reaction which generates around 300 kJ/kg of cement hydrated. In mass concrete structures such as dams and large foundations, this heat of hydration causes a significant rise in temperature in the internal sections of the concrete. If thermal gradients between the internal sections and the near-surface zone of the concrete element are sufficiently large, the thermal stress can cause cracking of the concrete. This cracking may cause functional or structural problems in the operation of the structure. In order to minimise the potential for such cracking, it is necessary to minimise the rate and amount of heat that is evolved, particularly during the early period of the hydration process. This can be achieved by design engineers and concrete technologists through judicious selection and processing of concrete-making materials. This paper presents the observations and results obtained over a number of years from adiabatic testing of concretes, computational modelling of temperature development in large concrete structures and direct temperature measurements in actual structures, with a view to understanding the effects of concrete-making materials on temperature development in concrete. The paper considers the effects of different types of rock aggregates, different types of Portland cement, fineness of grinding of the cement, the addition of supplementary cementitious materials and variations in the concrete starting temperature on temperature development in a large concrete element over time. The results indicate that using a coarser ground cement, adding significant amounts of supplementary cementitious materials and cooling the concrete mixture before placing has a more significant effect in reducing the risk of cracking than varying the aggregate type of the Portland cement type.