Pekin ducks, in which cerebral cold sensitivity is negligible, were submitted to general body cooling at warm, thermoneutral, and cold ambient temperature (Ta) with an intestinal thermode. In some animals, hypothermia was enhanced by additional hypothalamic cooling that suppressed cold defense. In other animals, the spinal cord was cooled, either selectively or during intestinal cooling. From core temperature (Tc) and metabolic heat production (M) an overall cold sensitivity of about -5 to -6 W . kg-1 . degrees C-1 was determined at thermoneutrality. Maximum M amounted to four to five times the resting M of 3.8 W . kg-1 and was attained when Tc fell by 2.5 degrees C or more. In the cold, threshold Tc for the activation of M was elevated; overall cold sensitivity remained constant. In the warmth, threshold Tc was lowered; overall cold sensitivity was reduced, if mean skin temperature (Tsk) remained at aout 39 degrees C or higher. Spinal cold sensitivity amounted to about -0.25 W . kg-1 . degrees C-1 at normal Tc and thermoneutral and warm Ta; it increased to aout -0.50 W . kg-1 . degrees C-1 in the cold and during hypothermia. Peripheral cold sensitivity was estimated from Tsk and M as -0.4 to -0.8 W . kg-1 . degrees C-1. It is concluded that overall cold sensitivity in ducks mainly depends on deep-body temperature sensors outside of the central nervous system.