Differential scanning calorimetry was used to characterize thermal events associated with freezing and melting of suspensions and extracts of Panagrolaimus davidi, an Antarctic nematode which can survive intracellular freezing. Nematode suspensions produced a single freezing exotherm with a shoulder on the peak representing the freezing of the nematodes. A shoulder on the peak of melting endotherms indicates the melting of the nematodes and of the water surrounding them. Exotherms were also detected from individual nematodes mounted in liquid paraffin. The freezing of nematodes was very rapid and in marked contrast to that of freezing-tolerant insects and vertebrates, which take hours or days to freeze. Eighty-two percent of the nematodes' body water froze. High levels of survival were obtained in nematodes exposed to temperatures down to -40 degrees C. No additional thermal events were observed after the freezing event and before the melting of samples cooled to -40 degrees C, indicating no changes in the proportion of body water frozen. Ice nucleating activity is present in nematode suspensions but not in supernatants from nematode extracts. No thermal hysteresis activity was detected in nematode extracts.