Metabolic and genomic characteristics of polyamines (PAs) may be associated with the induction of cold tolerance (CT) responses in plants. Characteristics of PAs encoding genes in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) and their function under cold stress (CS) are currently unknown. In this study, the potential role of PAs along with the antioxidative defense systems were assessed in two chickpea genotypes (Sel96th11439, cold-tolerant and ILC533, cold-sensitive) under CS conditions. Six days after exposure to CS, the leaf H2O2 content and electrolyte leakage index increased in the sensitive genotype by 47.7 and 59 %, respectively, while these values decreased or remained unchanged, respectively, in the tolerant genotype. In tolerant genotype, the enhanced activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) (by 50 %) was accompanied by unchanged activities of ascorbate peroxidase (APX), guaiacol peroxidase (GPX) and catalase (CAT) as well as the accumulation of glutathione (GSH) (by 43 %) on the sixth day of CS. Higher levels of putrescine (Put) (322 %), spermidine (Spd) (45 %), spermine (Spm) (69 %) and the highest ratio of Put/(Spd + Spm) were observed in tolerant genotype compared to the sensitive one on the sixth day of CS. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) accumulation was 74 % higher in tolerant genotype compared to the sensitive one on the sixth day of CS. During CS, the activity of diamine oxidase (DAO) and polyamine oxidase (PAO) increased in tolerant (by 3.02- and 2.46-fold) and sensitive (by 2.51- and 2.8-fold) genotypes, respectively, in comparison with the respective non-stressed plants (normal conditions). The highest activity of DAO and PAO in the tolerant genotype was accompanied by PAs decomposition and a peak in GABA content on the sixth day of CS. The analysis of chickpea genome revealed the presence of five PAs biosynthetic genes, their chromosomal locations, and cis-regulatory elements. A significant increase in transcript levels of arginine decarboxylase (ADC) (24.26- and 7.96-fold), spermidine synthase 1 (SPDS1) (3.03- and 1.53-fold), SPDS2 (5.5- and 1.62-fold) and spermine synthase (SPMS) (3.92- and 1.65-fold) genes was detected in tolerant and sensitive genotypes, respectively, whereas the expression of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) genes decreased significantly under CS conditions in both genotypes. Leaf chlorophyll and carotenoid contents exhibited declining trends in the sensitive genotype, while these photosynthetic pigments were stable in the tolerant genotype due to the superior performance of defensive processes under CS conditions. Overall, these results suggested the specific roles of putative PAs genes and PAs metabolism in development of effective CT responses in chickpea.