Hypothermia results in diminished voluntary muscle activity, and is frequently used as a means of providing deep anesthesia to ectotherms and some mammals. In ectotherms, however, it is unclear if hypothermia produces true pain insensation. A needle-probe thermometer was used to demonstrate in frogs (Rana pipiens) that local hypothermia (9 degrees C) could be induced by placement of a tourniqueted leg into ice water (6 degrees C) for 10 min in contrast to the contralateral nontourniqueted leg (21.8 degrees C) kept out of ice water. Analgesia was tested by placement of dilutions of acetic acid on the rear leg. Further tests using groups of 10 frogs demonstrated that frogs with local hypothermia tolerated greater concentrations of acetic acid (mean acetic acid test score = 11) than morphine (10 mg/kg)-treated (9.6) or nontreated (5.8) frogs. Additional studies showed that morphine analgesia was blocked with naloxone doses as low as 0.01 mg/kg and hypothermia-induced analgesia at 10 mg/kg. Naltrexone blocked morphine analgesia at dosages as low as 0.01 mg/kg and hypothermia-induced analgesia at 0.10 mg/kg. In summary, this study demonstrates that hypothermia induces significant analgesia in an amphibian, and that this analgesia is partially blocked by naloxone and naltrexone, suggesting that the effect is mediated at least partially by opioid receptors.