Recent studies suggest cold-regulated heat-stable proteins mitigate the potential damaging effects of low water activity associated with freezing. A proposed function of these proteins is stabilization of enzymes during exposure of plants to subzero temperatures. To test this hypothesis for tuber-bearing Solanum L. species we determined the quantitative expression of heat-stable proteins, the qualitative changes in dehydrin proteins, and the capacity of heat-stable proteins to cryoprotect a freeze-thaw labile enzyme lactate dehydrogenase (LDH). We used five tuber-bearing Solanum species (S. tuberosum L. `Red Pontiac', S. acaule Bitter, S. sanctae rosea Hawkes, S. commersonii Dunal, and S. cardiophyllum Bitter), which vary in nonacclimated relative freezing tolerance (NA RFT), acclimated relative freezing tolerance (AC RFT), and acclimation capacity (ACC). The protein fraction containing a mixture of heat-stable proteins demonstrated cryoprotective capacities greater or equal to other cryoprotective compounds (bovine serum albumin, polyethylene glycol, glycerol, and sucrose). Heat-stable proteins extracted from acclimated S. commersonii had superior cryoprotective capacity than those extracted from nonacclimated S. commersonii plants. Interestingly, in the presence of these proteins extracted from acclimated plants (in S. commersonii and S. sanctae rosea), LDH activity was elevated above that of unfrozen controls. No quantitative relationships were found between heat-stable protein concentration and NA RFT, AC RFT, or ACC among the five species. This was also true for dehydrin protein expression. Cold acclimation treatment resulted in increased dehydrin expression for acclimating and nonacclimating species. In three of the cold acclimating species (S. acaule, S. sanctae rosea, and S. commersonii), an increase in dehydrin expression may play a role in increased freezing tolerance during cold acclimation. In the cold sensitive, nonacclimating species (S. tuberosum and S. cardiophyllum), however, an increase in dehydrin level maybe related to the response of these species to changed (perhaps stressful) environment during cold treatment. By exploiting the genetic variation in NA RFT and ACC for five tuber-bearing species, we were able to gain new insight into the complexity of the relationship between heat-stable protein and cold response.