The parental influences on three progeny traits (survival to eyed-embryo stage, post-hatching body length and yolk-sac volume) of Arctic charr Salvelinus alpinus were studied under two thermal conditions (2 and 7 degrees C) using a factorial mating design. The higher temperature resulted in elevated mortality rates and less advanced development at hatching. Survival was mostly attributable to maternal effects at both temperatures, but the variation among families was dependent on egg size only at the low temperature. No additive genetic variation (or pure sire effect) could be observed, whereas the non-additive genetic effects (parental combination) contributed to offspring viability at 2 degrees C. In contrast, any observable genetic variance in survival was lost at 7 degrees C, most likely due to the increased environmental variance. Irrespective of temperature, dam and sire-dam interaction contributed significantly to the phenotypic variation in both larval length and yolk size. A significant proportion of the variation in larval length was also due to the sire effect at 2 degrees C. Maternal effects were mediated partly through egg size, but as a whole, they decreased in importance at the high temperature, enabling a concomitant increase in non-additive genetic effects. For larval length, however, the additive component, like maternal effects, decreased at 7 degrees C. The present results suggest that an exposure to thermal stress during incubation can modify the genetic architecture of early developmental traits in S. alpinus and presumably constrain their short-term adaptive potential and evolvability by increasing the amount of environmentally induced variation.