The arctic climate places high demands on the energy metabolism of its inhabitants. We measured resting (RMR) and basal metabolic rates (BMR), body temperatures, and dry and wet thermal conductances in summer morphs of the lemmings Dicrostonyx groenlandicus and Lemmus trimucronatus in arctic Canada, and the BMR of D. torquatus, D. groenlandicus, L. sibiricus, L. bungei and L. trimucronatus in Siberia. In contrast to previous studies the data were collected on animals that had spent only a limited time in captivity. All parameters were analysed in relation to the variations in body mass (20-90 g). Body temperature and BMR were lower in D. groenlandicus than L. trimucronatus, which coincides with greater longevity in the former species. Wet and dry thermal conductances of both species were similar and comparable with those of other Myomorpha (mouse-type rodents), indicating no evidence for a previously claimed lower thermal conductance in lemmings. BMR in lemmings appeared to be higher than in other Arvicolidae (voles, lemmings and muskrats), which could relate to their typically high-latitude distribution. However, the more southerly living Lemmus species had higher BMR than the more northerly living Dicrostonyx species, which may be explained by the former having a relatively low-quality diet.