The food intakes of male and female rats (Harvard strain) adapted to cold (5°C) starting at weaning were studied in the cold and during reacclimation to 25°C. Following 24 hr food deprivation, the male rats regained the weight they had lost without making up for the food they had missed (increased food efficiency), while the female rats ate 75% more food than they had missed in regaining their body weights (decreased food efficiency), independent of the temperature at which the animals were housed. On a high fat diet, both cold groups gained less weight than did the two control groups. However, each female group gained significantly less weight than its same temperature male group. Dietary-induced thermogenesis was significantly enhanced in male cold adapted rats 3 months after reacclimation to the zone of thermal neutrality but not in cold adapted female rats. Sex and strain differences are discussed. These data indicate that early chronic cold exposure results in both immediate and long-term changes in food efficiency and metabolism in adult rats, but the effects vary with the sex of the animal. © 1982.