Plants possess inducible tolerance mechanisms that extend the temperature range for survival during acute temperature stress. The inducible mechanisms of cold acclimation and acquired thermotolerance involve highly complex processes. These include perception and signal transduction of non-optimal temperatures or their physical consequences on cellular components that program extensive modification of the transcriptome, proteome, metabolome and composition and physical structure of the cytoplasm, membranes and cell walls. Therefore, a systems biology approach will be necessary to advance the understanding of plant stress responses and tolerance mechanisms. One promise of systems biology is that it will greatly enhance our understanding of individual and collective functions and thereby provide a more holistic view of plant stress responses. Past studies have found that several metabolites that could functionally contribute to induced stress tolerance have been associated with stress responses. Recent metabolite-profiling studies have refocused attention on these and other potentially important components found in the 'temperature-stress metabolome'. These metabolomic studies have demonstrated that active reconfiguration of the metabolome is regulated in part by changes in gene expression initiated by temperature-stress-activated signaling and stress-related transcription factors. One aspect of metabolism that is consistent across all of the temperature-stress metabolomic studies to date is the prominent role of central carbohydrate metabolism, which seems to be a major feature of the reprogramming of the metabolome during temperature stress. Future metabolomic studies of plant temperature-stress responses should reveal additional metabolic pathways that have important functions in temperature-stress tolerance mechanisms.