We apply a direct downscaling approach to generate ensembles of local-scale glacier mass balance projections from coarse-scale general circulation model (GCM) data. The general modes of the atmospheric circulation over a large geographical region are linked statistically to Peyto Glacier's winter and summer balance separately. Our study focuses on the generation of ensemble projections derived from simulations with ECHAM5-MPIOM forced with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - Special Report on Emission Scenarios (IPCC-SRES) A1B and B1. The resulting ensembles of mass balance projections show a moderate increase in winter balance and a steep decrease in summer balance. Together these results suggest continued frontal recession and downwasting of Peyto Glacier and a shift of the equilibrium line altitude by at least 100 m above that estimated for the 1966–2001 period suggesting that very little of the glacier will remain by 2100. Copyright © 2008 Crown in the right of Canada. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.