The two-dimensional time-dependent Navier-Stokes equations in terms of the vorticity and the stream function are solved numerically by using the coupling of the dual reciprocity boundary element method (DRBEM) in space with the differential quadrature method (DQM) in time. In DRBEM application, the convective and the time derivative terms in the vorticity transport equation are considered as the nonhomogeneity in the equation and are approximated by radial basis functions. The solution to the Poisson equation, which links stream function and vorticity with an initial vorticity guess, produces velocity components in turn for the solution to vorticity transport equation. The DRBEM formulation of the vorticity transport equation results in an initial value problem represented by a system of first-order ordinary differential equations in time. When the DQM discretizes this system in time direction, we obtain a system of linear algebraic equations, which gives the solution vector for vorticity at any required time level. The procedure outlined here is also applied to solve the problem of two-dimensional natural convection in a cavity by utilizing an iteration among the stream function, the vorticity transport and the energy equations as well. The test problems include two-dimensional flow in a cavity when a force is present, the lid-driven cavity and the natural convection in a square cavity. The numerical results are visualized in terms of stream function, vorticity and temperature contours for several values of Reynolds (Re) and Rayleigh (Ra) numbers. Copyright (C) 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.