Individual changes in heat production and body temperature were studied in response to cold exposure, prior to shivering. The subjects ten women (seven men) were of normal weight, had a mean age of 23 (SD 3) years and average BMI 22·2 (SD 1·6) Kg/m2. They were lying supine under thermoneutral conditions for 30 min and were subsequently exposed to air of 15°C until shivering occurred. Heat production was measured with a ventilated hood. Body composition was measured with underwater weighing and 2H dilution. Body temperatures were measured with thermistors. Heat production during cold exposure prior to shivering increased and reached a plateau. Skin temperature decreased and did not reach a plateau during the test period. The non-shivering interval (NSI) ranged from 20 to 148 min, was not related to body composition and was not significantly different between women (81 (sd 15) min) and men (84 (sd 34) min). NSI was negatively related to skin temperature (r2 0·44, P=0·004), and skin temperature was related to heat production (r2 0·39, P=0·007) In conclusion, subjects with a relatively large heat production during cold exposure maintained a relatively high skin temperature but showed a short NSI, independent of differences in body composition.