© 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg (outside the USA). Key message: The interaction betweenVRN-A1andFR-A2largely affect the frost tolerance of hexaploid wheat. Abstract: Frost tolerance is critical for wheat survival during cold winters. Natural variation for this trait is mainly associated with allelic differences at the VERNALIZATION 1 (VRN1) and FROST RESISTANCE 2 (FR2) loci. VRN1 regulates the transition between vegetative and reproductive stages and FR2, a locus including several tandemly duplicated C-REPEAT BINDING FACTOR (CBF) transcription factors, regulates the expression of Cold-regulated genes. We identified sequence and copy number variation at these two loci among winter and spring wheat varieties and characterized their association with frost tolerance. We identified two FR-A2 haplotypes—‘FR-A2-S’ and ‘FR-A2-T’—distinguished by two insertion/deletions and ten single nucleotide polymorphisms within the CBF-A12 and CBF-A15 genes. Increased copy number of CBF-A14 was frequently associated with the FR-A2-T haplotype and with higher CBF14 transcript levels in response to cold. Factorial ANOVAs revealed significant interactions between VRN1 and FR-A2 for frost tolerance in both winter and spring panels suggesting a crosstalk between vernalization and cold acclimation pathways. The model including these two loci and their interaction explained 32.0 and 20.7 % of the variation in frost tolerance in the winter and spring panels, respectively. The interaction was validated in a winter wheat F4:5 population segregating for both genes. Increased VRN-A1 copy number was associated with improved frost tolerance among varieties carrying the FR-A2-T allele but not among those carrying the FR-A2-S allele. These results suggest that selection of varieties carrying the FR-A2-T allele and three copies of the recessive vrn-A1 allele would be a good strategy to improve frost tolerance in wheat.