Canadian and French laboratory strains of Sitophilus granarius (L.) and Cryptolestes ferrugineus (Stephens) were cold acclimated by placing adults at 15, 10 and 5 degrees C successively for 2wk at each temperature before deacclimating them for 1wk at 30 degrees C. Unacclimated S. granarius had an LT(50) (lethal time for 50% of the population) of 12days at 0 degrees C compared with 40days after the full cold acclimation. At -10 degrees C, unacclimated C. ferrugineus had an LT(50) of 1.4days compared with 24days after the full acclimation. Cold acclimation was lost within a week after returning insects to 30 degrees C. Trehalose, as well as the amino acids proline, asparagine, glutamic acid and lysine were higher in cold acclimated insects for both species. For S. granarius, glutamine was higher in cold acclimated insects and isoleucine, ethanolamine and phosphoethanolamine, a precursor of phospholipids, were lower in cold acclimated insects. For C. ferrugineus, alanine, aspartic acid, threonine, valine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine and phosphoethanolamine were higher in cold acclimated insects. For both species tyrosine was lower in cold acclimated insects. There were small but significant differences between Canadian and French strains of S. granarius, with the Canadian strain being more cold hardy and having higher levels of trehalose. There were small but significant differences between male and female S. granarius, with males being more cold hardy and having higher levels of proline, asparagine and glutamic acid. In conclusion, high levels of trehalose and proline were correlated with cold tolerance, as seen in several other insects. However, correlation does not prove that these compounds are responsible for cold tolerance, and we outline further tests that could demonstrate a causal relationship between trehalose and proline and cold tolerance.