Various studies have shown that changes over time in spring ice-out dates can be used as indicators of climate change. Ice-out dates from 29 lakes in New England (USA) with 64 to 163 years of record were assembled and analysed for this study. Ice-out dates have become significantly earlier in New England since the 1800s. Changes in ice-out dates between 1850 and 2000 were 9 days and 16 days in the northern/mountainous and southern regions of New England respectively. The changes in the ice-out data over time were very consistent within each of the two regions of New England, and more consistent than four air-temperature records in each region. The ice-out dates of the two regions had a different response to changes in air temperature. The inferred late winter–early spring air-temperature warming in both regions of New England since 1850, based on linear regression analysis, was about 1.5°C. Published in 2002 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.