Intra-plate volcanism in western Europe shows statistically significant episodicity during the Quaternary period. By comparing the known ages for eruptions in France and Germany, which are compiled here, with a composite oxygen isotope record, we have investigated the link between this episodic volcanism and the climate record over the last two million years. We show that increased volcanism between 415–400 ka and 17–5 ka correlates with warming phases at the end of the last Weichselian (Devensian) and earlier Elsterian (Anglian) glacial stages. The three significant caldera explosions in the eastern Eifel, Germany, are all associated with warming phases at the onset of interglacials. The growth and decay of nearby ice sheets suggest that surface changes in continental mass distribution during glacial Milankovich cycles could provide a mechanism for this correlation by means of the distal effects of flexural loading on the lithosphere. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.