The recent completion of drilling at Vostok station in East Antarctica has allowed the extension of the ice record of atmospheric composition and climate to the past four glacial–interglacial cycles. The succession of changes through each climate cycle and termination was similar, and atmospheric and climate properties oscillated between stable bounds. Interglacial periods differed in temporal evolution and duration. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane correlate well with Antarctic air-temperature throughout the record. Present-day atmospheric burdens of these two important greenhouse gases seem to have been unprecedented during the past 420,000 years.