Chilling 10-mm cucumber (Cucumis sativus L. `Poinsett 76') radicles at 2.5 °C reduced their subsequent growth during 3 days at 25 °C. The reduction in radicle growth was linear for 1 to 3 days of chilling but then increased substantially until subsequent radicle growth was all but eliminated by 6 days of chilling. Heat shocks of 40 °C applied for 4 to 12 min increased chilling tolerance such that 4 days of chilling caused only a 36% decrease in radicle growth compared to 66% for seedlings not heat shocked, which brought the response in line with the responses of the non-heat-shocked seeds chilled for 1 to 3 days. Eight-minute heat shocks applied before 5 days of chilling resulted in a 45% inhibition of subsequent growth, compared to 82% for chilled non-heat-shocked controls. Heat shocks applied before 3 days of chilling did not result in a significant increase in subsequent growth compared to the non-heat-shocked controls chilled for 3 days. Heat shocks were only able to protect that part of radicle growth that was in excess of the linear decrease in radicle growth. There appears to be two effects of chilling on radicle growth. The first is linear and cannot be affected by heat shocks. The second is much more severe and can be prevented by heat shocks. Seeds were selected for three categories of vigor according to the rate at which their radicles grew to 10 mm. Seeds classified with different vigors neither responded significantly differently to 3 days exposure to 2.5 °C nor did they respond differently to chilling stress following application of heat shocks.