In this article, a posteriori error estimates are derived for mixed finite element Galerkin approximations to second order linear parabolic initial and boundary value problems. Using mixed elliptic reconstructions, a posteriori error estimates in L∞(L2)- and L2(L2)-norms for the solution as well as its flux are proved for the semidiscrete scheme. Finally, based on a backward Euler method, a completely discrete scheme is analyzed and a posteriori error bounds are derived, which improves upon earlier results on a posteriori estimates of mixed finite element approximations to parabolic problems. Results of numerical experiments verifying the efficiency of the estimators have also been provided. © 2012 Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.