Male Sprague-Dawley rats, 4 weeks old, were subjected to an ambient temperature of 4 C for periods up to 24 days and fed a synthetic diet containing one of the following oils: peanut oil (PO), rapeseed oil (RO), low erucic acid rapeseed oil (LO), and partially hydrogenated marine oil (HO), each at 20% w/w. A parallel experiment using the same oils was performed at room temperature (23 C). During cold stress, animals on the RO diet showed higher mortality than all other groups; all 20 animals in this group died within 5 days. At room temperature, however, all animals survived. The lipid accumulation in the heart reached its peak in all groups after 3 days and then gradually declined. The accumulation was most pronounced in the RO animals and coincided with the high mortality at 4 C. The fatty acid composition of the cardiac triglycerides reflected that of the diet, while the composition of the cardiac lecithin was only marginally modified.