The instantaneous daytime conductive heat flow through the snow on lake ice was derived from snow depth, temperature and density measurements made during the course of six winters at MST Pond in central Alaska. The MST Pond data for winter 2003–04 are compared with results for the same period at six other sites (Barrow, Nome, Amos Lakes, Fairbanks, Wasilla, Seward) in Alaska. The maximum heat flow at MST Pond has varied between −19·5 and −8·8 W m−2. Each winter, the heat flow decreases as the total thickness of snow and ice increases with time. Superimposed on this trend are variations due to fluctuating air temperatures. The comparison of the MST Pond data with the other locations in Alaska reveals heat flow differences that reflect different weather conditions, particularly air temperature and wind, and the latter's effect on snow depth and density. Notwithstanding the regional differences, the heat flow values are of the same order of magnitude as those obtained for sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctica. The implications for the total winter conductive heat loss at large lakes and for regions where many small lakes cover a large proportion of the land are discussed. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.