Using thermal growth data from eight populations of anadromous and lake-feeding brown trout Salmo trutta, hypotheses of adaptation to local optima and countergradient variation in growth were tested. The adaptation to local optima hypothesis suggests that natural selection can shift optimal performance temperatures to match the prevailing temperature in a new or changed thermal niche. In contradiction, the countergradient variation hypothesis suggests that populations from hostile environments perform better than conspecifics from benign environments at all temperatures. In this study, growth capacity varied between populations but there was no significant correlation between any of the estimated thermal performance parameters (e.g. lower and upper thermal growth limits, optimal temperature for growth and maximum growth capacity) and natural climatic conditions among populations. Hence, S. trutta growth response to temperature lends no support for either of the two suggested thermal adaptation hypotheses. Instead, growth capacity among populations tended to correlate positively with female size at maturity.