The glacial episodes of the Quaternary (2.6 million years ago-present) were a major factor in shaping the present-day distributions of extant flora and fauna, with expansions and contractions of the ice sheets rendering large areas uninhabitable for most species. Fossil records suggest that many species survived glacial maxima by retreating to refugia, usually at lower latitudes. Recently, phylogeographic studies have given support to the existence of previously unknown, or cryptic, refugia. Here we summarise many of these insights into the glacial histories of species in cryptic refugia gained through phylogeographic approaches. Understanding such refugia might be important as the Earth heads into another period of climate change, in terms of predicting the effects on species distribution and survival.