Abstract: The Ranque–Hilsch effect, observed in swirling flow within a single tube, is a spontaneous separation of total temperature, with the colder stream near the tube centreline and the hotter air near its periphery. Despite its simplicity, the mechanism of the Ranque–Hilsch effect has been a matter of long-standing dispute. Here we demonstrate, through analysis and experiment, that the acoustic streaming, induced by orderly disturbances within the swirling flow is, to a substantial degree, a cause of the Ranque–Hilsch effect. The analysis predicts that the streaming induced by the pure tone, a spinning wave corresponding to the first tangential mode, deforms the base Rankine vortex into a forced vortex, resulting in total temperature separation in the radial direction. This is confirmed by experiments, where, in the Ranque–Hilsch tube of uniflow arrangement, we install acoustic suppressors of organ-pipe type, tuned to the discrete frequency of the first tangential mode, attenuate its amplitude, and show that this does indeed reduce the total temperature separation.