Low temperatures at the initial stages of rice development prevent fast germination and seedling establishment and may cause significant productivity losses. In order to develop rice cultivars exhibiting cold tolerance, it is necessary to investigate genetic resources, providing basic knowledge to allow the introduction of genes involved in low temperature germination ability from accessions into elite cultivars. Japanese rice accessions were evaluated at the germination under two conditions: 13°C for 28 days (cold stress) and 28°C for seven days (optimal temperature). The traits studied were coleoptile and radicle length under optimal temperature, coleoptile and radicle length under cold and percentage of the reduction in coleptile and radicle length due to low temperature. Among the accessions studied, genetic variation for traits related to germination under low temperatures was observed and accessions exhibiting adequate performance for all investigated traits were identified. The use of multivariate analysis allowed the identification of the genotypes displaying cold tolerance by smaller reductions in coleoptile and radicle lenght in the presence of cold and high vigour, by higher coleoptile and radicle growth under cold.