The metabolic, thermal, and cardiovascular responses of two male Caucasians to 1 2 h exposure to ambient temperature ranging between 28 degrees C and 5 degrees C were studied and related to the respective ambient temperatures. The metabolic heat production increased linearly with decreasing ambient temperature, where heat production (kcal times m- minus 2 times h- minus 1) = minus 2.79 Ta degrees C + 103.4, r = -0.97, P smaller than 0.001. During all exposures below 28 degrees C, the rate of decrease in mean skin temperature (Tsk) was found to be an exponential function dependent upon the ambient temperature (Ta) and the time of exposure. Reestablishment of Tsk steady state occurred at 90-120 min of exposure, and the time needed to attain steady state was linearly related to decreasing Ta. The net result was that a constant ratio of 1.5 of the external thermal gradient to the internal thermal gradient was obtained, and at all experimental temperatures, the whole body heat transfer coefficient remained constant. Cardiac output was inversely related to decreasing Ta, where cardiac output (Q) = minus 0.25 Ta degrees C + 14.0, r = minus 0.92, P smaller than 0.01. However, the primary reason for the increased Q, the stroke output, was also described as a third-order polynomial, although the increasing stroke volume throughout the Ta range (28-5 degrees C) was linearly related to decreasing ambients. The non-linear response of this parameter which occurred at 20 degrees C larger than or equal to Ta larger than or equal to 10 degrees C suggested that the organism's cardiac output response was an integration of the depressed heart rate response and the increasing stroke output at these temperatures.