31P NMR was applied to an examination of the freeze-tolerant larvae of the gall fly, Eurosta solidaginis. Resonances from sugar phosphates, inorganic phosphate, adenylates and arginine phosphate were identified. Two peaks of Pi were identified corresponding to intracellular and extracellular Pi. Anoxia produced an expected decrease in peak intensities of ATP and arginine phosphate while the peak of intracellular Pi was enhanced and shifted to indicate intracellular acidification during anoxia. Spectra of whole larvae were monitored over a temperature range from -30 degrees to +25 degrees C. No abrupt alterations in the spectra were seen at the point of extracellular freezing which occurs at about -8 degrees C but temperature had dramatic effects upon the peak intensities of ATP and arginine phosphate. A reversible increase/decrease in peak intensities, relative to Pi, was observed as temperature was raised/lowered. At 15 degrees and -20 degrees C, the beta peak of ATP was 64% and 2% of the peak intensity of Pi while that of arginine phosphate was 78% and 11%, respectively. This temperature effect was not an artifact of instrumentation (as model solutions containing Pi, ATP and arginine phosphate did not show this effect) or a result of changes in the total amounts of these compounds in the cell with temperature. Rather it is apparent that these molecules become restricted in their rotational movement as temperature is lowered perhaps via binding to subcellular components. Changes in the amounts of freely soluble ATP and arginine phosphate with temperature could have important implications for metabolism and its control. Analysis of the effect of temperature on the chemical shift of Pi was also used to determine pH in the intracellular and extracellular compartments. Temperature change had no effect on extracellular (hemolymph) pH which remained constant at 6.1-6.3. Intracellular pH varied with temperature, however, from pH 6.8 at 15 degrees C to pH 7.3 at -12 degrees C with a change, delta pH/delta 0, of -0.0185 degrees C consistent with alphastat regulation.