To investigate genotype x environment interactions in the forced swim test, we tested the influence of water temperature (20 degrees C, 25 degrees C, 30 degrees C) on floating behaviour in single-housed male C57BL/6J and BALB/c mice. We observed a contrasting relationship between floating and water temperature between the two strains, with C57BL/6J floating more and BALB/c floating less with increasing water temperature, independent of the lightening conditions and the time point of testing during the animals' circadian rhythm. Both strains showed an inverse relationship between plasma corticosterone concentration and water temperature, indicating that the differences in stress coping are unrelated to different perception of the aversive encounter. Treatment with desipramine (20mg/kg, i.p.) caused a reduction in immobility time in C57BL/6J mice if the animals were tested at 30 degrees C water temperature, with no effect at 25 degrees C and no effects on forced swim stress-induced corticosterone secretion. The same treatment failed to affect floating behaviour in BALB/c at any temperature, but caused a decrease in plasma corticosterone levels. Taken together we demonstrate that an increase in water temperature in the forced swim test exerts opposite effects on floating behaviour in C57BL/6J and BALB/c and renders single-housed C57BL/6J mice, but not BALB/c mice, susceptible to antidepressant-like behavioral effects of desipramine.