Because stress experiences are often recurrent plants have developed strategies to remember a first so-called priming stress to eventually respond more effectively to a second triggering stress. Here, we have studied the impact of discontinuous or sustained cold stress (4 degrees C) on in vitro grown Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings of different age and their ability to get primed and respond differently to a later triggering stress. Cold treatment of 7-d-old seedlings induced the expression of cold response genes but did not cause a significantly enhanced freezing resistance. The competence to increase the freezing resistance in response to cold was associated with the formation of true leaves. Discontinuous exposure to cold only during the night led to a stepwise modest increase in freezing tolerance provided that the intermittent phase at ambient temperature was less than 32h. Seedlings exposed to sustained cold treatment developed a higher freezing tolerance which was further increased in response to a triggering stress during three days after the priming treatment had ended indicating cold memory. Interestingly, in all scenarios the primed state was lost as soon as the freezing tolerance had reached the level of naive plants indicating that an effective memory was associated with an altered physiological state. Known mutants of the cold stress response (cbfs, erf105) and heat stress memory (fgt1) did not show an altered behaviour indicating that their roles do not extend to memory of cold stress in Arabidopsis seedlings.