Cold acclimation of carp from 30°C to 10°C causes a restructuring of liver microsomal phospholipids characterised by increased proportions of monounsaturated fatty acid in phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE). Here, we have used electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) to determine the patterns of alteration to individual molecular species compositions of PC, PE and phosphatidylinositol (PI) in response to gradually decreasing temperature. The results demonstrate that cold induces precise changes to a limited number of phospholipid species, and that these changes are distinct and different for each phospholipid class. The major change for PC was increased 16:1/22:6, but for PE the species that increased was 18:1/22:6. By contrast, the PI species that increased during cold acclimation were characterised by an sn-1 monounsaturated fatty acid in combination with arachidonoyl or eicosapentaenoyl fatty acid at the sn-2 position. Analysis of acyl distribution indicates that cold only caused the accumulation of monounsaturated fatty acids at the sn-1 and not at the sn-2 position of phospholipids. These results highlight the tight and restricted range of modifications that membranes make to their phospholipid composition in response to thermal stress.