Sea-surface geostrophic velocities for the Kuroshio region calculated from TOPEX/POSEIDON altimetry data together within situ oceanographic data are compared with surface velocities derived from drifting buoy trajectories. The geostrophic velocities agree well with the observed velocities, suggesting that the Kuroshio surface layer is essentially in geostrophic balance, within measurement error. The comparison is improved a little when the centrifugal acceleration is taken into account. The observed velocities are divided into the temporal mean and fluctuation components, and the partitioning of velocities between these two components is examined. For the Kuroshio region, most of the fluctuation components of the velocities derived from drifting buoys are found to be positive. This result suggests that Eulerian mean velocities for the Kuroshio region estimated from drifting buoy data tend to be larger than actual means, due to the buoy’s tendency to sample preferentially in the high-velocity Kuroshio.