Young adult male and female Djungarian hamsters were exposed to ambient temperatures of 23 or 0 C for 12 h; half of the animals in each group were treated with iopanoic acid to suppress the peripheral conversion of T4 to the thermotropically active thyroid hormone T3 by the enzyme 5'-deiodinase (5'D). Brown adipose tissue (BAT) mRNA for uncoupling protein (UCP), BAT lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity, and 5'D activity were measured at the conclusion of the study. A temperature of 0 C produced large rises in 5'D and LPL activities and a similar large increase in UCP mRNA within the 12-h exposure period. When 5'D activity was inhibited with iopanoic acid, mRNA for UCP was reduced, while LPL activity was unaffected. The results show that the optimal production of mRNA for BAT UCP depends on the availability of T3; however, T3 is not required for the cold-induced activation of LPL activity in BAT.