This study aimed to assess the relationship between basal metabolic rate (BMR) and metabolic heat production, and to clarify the involvement of BMR in determining the phenotype of cold tolerance. Measurements of BMR, maximum oxygen uptake, and cold exposure test were conducted on ten males. In the cold exposure test, rectal (T(rec)) and mean skin temperatures (T(ms)), oxygen uptake, and blood flow at forearm (BF(arm)) were measured during exposure to cold (10 degrees C) for 90 min. Significant correlations were observed between BMR and increasing rate of oxygen uptake, as well as between decreasing rate of BF(arm) and increasing rate of oxygen uptake at the end of cold exposure. These findings suggested that individuals with a lower BMR were required to increase their metabolic heat production during cold exposure, and that those with a higher BMR were able to moderate increased metabolic heat production during cold exposure because they were able to reduce heat loss. This study showed that BMR is an important factor in determining the phenotype of cold tolerance, and that individuals with a low BMR showed calorigenic-type cold adaptation, whereas subjects with a high BMR exhibited adiabatic-type cold adaptation by peripheral vasoconstriction.