In high altitude areas (> c. 850 m elevation) in west Asia and north Africa, lentil (Lens culinaris) is grown as a spring crop to avoid severe winter cold. But late fall-sown lentil with winter hardiness has higher yield potential in these areas. In this study a total of 245 accessions of wild lentil, 10 of cultivated lentil and three accessions of Vicia montbretii (syn. L. montbretii) were evaluated for winter hardiness in Syria and Turkey during the 1991/92 season. The absolute minimum temperatures were -16 degrees C in Syria and -18.9 degrees C in Turkey and the susceptible indicators were killed at both locations showing that the cold was sufficient for screening. Although winter hardiness was assessed as percentage of survived plants in Syria and as a visual damage rating on a 1-9 scale in Turkey, there was agreement between the winter hardiness ratings with a correlation of r = -0.56, P <0.001. Accessions of L. culinaris ssp. orientalis exhibited the highest level of winter hardiness, on average; whereas accessions of L. nigricans ssp. ervoides were the most susceptible. Correlations revealed that winter hardiness was concentrated among accessions originating from high elevation areas.