Higher education is an influential sector with enormous potential to impact positively on health and sustainability. The purpose of this paper was to explore its emergent role as a key setting for promoting health and sustainability and for addressing their challenges in an integrated and coherent way. Acknowledging both the relative narrowness of the environmental focus that has to date characterized and driven universities' work in relation to sustainability and the demonstrable value of adopting a whole-system approach, this paper will explore the concept of 'Healthy Universities' as a means of furthering debate and facilitating synergy between public health, sustainable development and climate change.Higher education represents one large-scale sector with a unique combination of roles that can be harnessed to focus and mobilize its education, knowledge exchange, research, corporate responsibility and future shaping agendas to achieve significant impacts in this area. It is the growing commitment to embedding health and well-being within the mainstream business of higher education coupled with the expectation that universities will act sustainably in all that they do that provides the perfect springboard to influence a process of 'co-ordinated action' to address climate change and impact positively on the integrated health and sustainability agenda. © 2010 The Author. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.