This summer study evaluated the effect of providing additional fans (cooling) in the resting area within a free-stall dairy barn that had fans and sprinklers in the feeding area and paddock availability. Thirty cows were divided into two homogenous groups and kept in two pens: one had the resting area equipped with two fans (FAN) while no fans were added to the other resting area (CON). Microclimatic parameters, rectal temperature (RT), breathing rate (BR), milk yield, and milk pH traits were recorded. Time budgeting and the behaviour of the cows (time spent in the feeding area, standing and lying in other areas) were also recorded using digital video technology. Two slight-to-moderate heat waves were observed. During the hottest period the daily maximum temperature recorded was 33.5 °C and the daily maximum THI was 81.6. During this period, the BR and RT increased only slightly in both groups, with lower BR (n.s.) in FAN compared with CON. Milk yield was better maintained (n.s.) in FAN compared with CON during the hottest period. The FAN cows showed a greater (P < 0.05) lying time in the free stalls (9.5 and 8.6 h/day in FAN and CON, respectively), whereas CON cows made greater (P < 0.05) use of the paddock during evening and late evening hours. Consequently, the total daily lying time was 13.5 h/day in both groups. In conclusion, the results suggest that using fans in the resting area improves cow comfort, which increases use of the resting area. The lying time results also suggest that the benefits of providing ventilation in the resting area might be more evident in barns where there is no paddock.