The performance of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA)-3B42 version 7 product is assessed over north-eastern Iberia, a region with considerable topographical gradients and complexity. Precipitation characteristics from a dense network of 656 rain gauges, spanning the period from 1998 to 2009, are used to evaluate TMPA-3B42 estimates on a daily scale. A set of accuracy estimators, including the relative bias, mean absolute error (MAE), root mean square error (RMSE) and Spearman coefficient was used to evaluate the results. The assessment indicates that TMPA-3B42 product is capable of describing the seasonal characteristics of the observed precipitation over most of the study domain. In particular, TMPA-3B42 precipitation agrees well with in situ measurements, with MAE less than 2.5 mm.day− 1, RMSE of 6.4 mm.day− 1 and Spearman correlation coefficients generally above 0.6. TMPA-3B42 provides improved accuracies in winter and summer, whereas it performs much worse in spring and autumn. Spatially, the retrieval errors show a consistent trend, with a general overestimation in regions of low altitude and underestimation in regions of heterogeneous terrain. TMPA-3B42 generally performs well over inland areas, while showing less skill in the coastal regions. A set of skill metrics, including a false alarm ratio [FAR], frequency bias index [FBI], the probability of detection [POD] and threat score [TS], is also used to evaluate TMPA performance under different precipitation thresholds (1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 mm.day− 1). The results suggest that TMPA-3B42 retrievals perform well in specifying moderate rain events (5–25 mm.day− 1), but show noticeably less skill in producing both light (< 1 mm.day− 1) and heavy rainfall thresholds (more than 50 mm.day− 1). Given the complexity of the terrain and the associated high spatial variability of precipitation in north-eastern Iberia, the results reveal that TMPA-3B42 data provide an informative addition to the spatial and temporal coverage of rain gauges in the domain, offering insights into characteristics of average precipitation and their spatial patterns. However, the satellite-based precipitation data should be used cautiously for monitoring extreme precipitation events, particularly over complex terrain. An improvement in precipitation algorithms is still needed to more accurately reproduce high precipitation events in areas of heterogeneous topography over this region.