This paper applies the GARCH-MIDAS (mixed data sampling) model to examine whether information contained in macroeconomic variables can help to predict short-term and long-term components of the return variance. A principal component analysis is used to incorporate the information contained in different variables. Our results show that including low-frequency macroeconomic information in the GARCH-MIDAS model improves the prediction ability of the model, particularly for the long-term variance component. Moreover, the GARCH-MIDAS model augmented with the first principal component outperforms all other specifications, indicating that the constructed principal component can be considered as a good proxy of the business cycle. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.