The maximal voluntary grip strength (MVGS) of male volunteers was examined following a series of five intermittent 2 min cold water (5 degrees C) immersions of the unprotected hand or forearm. MVGS changes due to wearing a protective glove were also investigated. The surface electrical activity over the hand flexor muscles was recorded, as was the skin temperature of the hand and forearm. MVGS decreased significantly (p less than 0.01) following hand immersions (16%) and forearm immersion (13%). The majority of these reductions occurred during the first 2-min period of immersion. The effect of wearing a glove after unprotected hand cooling also produced significant (p less than 0.01) MVGS reductions which averaged 14%. These reductions were in addition to those caused by hand cooling. We conclude that both hand and forearm protection are important for the maintenance of hand-grip strength following cold water immersion.