The C-repeat binding factor (Cbf) gene family has been shown to have a critical role in the regulation of low-temperature stress response in Arabidopsis. In Triticum monococcum, a locus carrying a family of Cbf-like genes, orthologs of Arabidopsis Cbf genes, is tightly linked to the frost tolerance locus Fr-Am2, representing candidates for the differences in frost tolerance mapped at this locus. In this work we show that several Cbf genes have dramatically different levels of induction after cold exposure in hexaploid wheat. The Cbf-transcription levels differ between substitution and single chromosome recombinant lines carrying different 5A chromosomes or chromosome segments of the chromosome 5A from frost-tolerant and frost-sensitive wheat varieties. When the expression of eight Cbf genes, previously mapped at the Fr-A2 locus was investigated with gene specific primers using real-time RT-PCR, three Cbf sequences (Cbf1A, Cbf1C, Cbf7) showed a significantly higher relative transcription level (more than fourfold change) in lines differing for the Fr-A2 region. Differences in Cbf expression were also associated with a variation in frost tolerance. These results suggest that the amount of some Cbf mRNAs might be a critical factor for determining the level of frost tolerance in wheat. © Springer-Verlag 2005.