`Hass' avocados [Persea americana Mill.] were pretreated in water (38 °C for up to 120 min) immediately before 50 °C hot water treatments of up to 10 min. Fruit were stored for 1 week at 6 °C and ripened at 20 °C. External browning was evaluated immediately upon removal from cold storage, and fruit quality evaluated when fruit were ripe. Pretreatments at 38 °C tended to reduce the levels of external browning, skin hardening, and internal disorders, such as tissue breakdown and body rots, that were associated, and increased, with longer hot water treatments. A pretreatment of 60 min was the most effective for eliminating external browning, and reducing hardening of the skin when fruit were ripe following hot water treatment. Examination of heat shock protein (hsp) gene expression in avocado skin tissue, showed that levels of hspl7 and hsp70 homologous mRNA increased with increasing pretreatment duration. The results demonstrate that 38 °C pretreatments increase the tolerance of avocado fruit to subsequent hot water treatments.