We analyze here how much carbon is being accumulated annually by secondary tropical dry forests (TDFs) and how structure, composition, time since abandonment, and climate can influence the dynamics of forest carbon accumulation. The study was carried out in Santa Rosa National Park in Guanacaste province, Costa Rica, and Mata Seca State Park in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Total carbon storage and carbon accumulation were obtained for both sites from the sum of the aboveground carbon and belowground carbon gain plus the annual litterfall. Carbon accumulation of these TDFs varied from 2.6 Mg C ha−1 y −1 to 6.3 Mg C ha−1 y −1 , depending on the age of the forest stands. Time since abandonment and number of stems per plot were the best predictors for carbon storage, annual carbon gains, and losses. Mortality rates and carbon losses were also associated with seasonal climate variability. We found significant correlations between tree mortality, carbon losses and mean seasonal temperature, mean seasonal precipitation, potential evapotranspiration, and the Oceanic Niño Index. Carbon dynamics in tropical dry forests are driven by time since abandonment and forest structure; however, rising temperature and El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events can have a significant impact on tree mortality and carbon losses. Depending on their location and land-use history, some dry forests are more impacted by climatic extremes than others, and differences between secondary stages are expected.