Heterosis is defined as the increased vigour of hybrids in comparison to their parents. We investigated 24 F(1) hybrid lines of Arabidopsis thaliana generated by reciprocally crossing either C24 or Col with six other parental accessions (Can, Co, Cvi, Ler, Rsch, Te) that differ widely in their freezing tolerance. The crosses differed in the degree of heterosis for freezing tolerance, both in the non-acclimated state and after a 14 d cold acclimation period. Crosses with C24 showed more heterosis than crosses with Col, and heterosis was stronger in acclimated than in non-acclimated plants. Leaf content of soluble sugars and proline showed more deviation from mid-parent values in crosses involving C24 than in those involving Col, and deviations were larger in acclimated than in non-acclimated plants. There were significant correlations between the content of different sugars and leaf freezing tolerance, as well as between heterosis effects in freezing tolerance and sugar content. Flavonoid content and composition varied between accessions, and between non-acclimated and acclimated plants. In the crosses, large deviations from the mid-parent values in the contents of different flavonols occurred, and there were strikingly strong correlations between both flavonol content and freezing tolerance, and between heterosis effects in freezing tolerance and flavonol content.