Frost tolerance is an acquired characteristic of plants that is induced in response to environmental cues preceding the onset of freezing temperatures and activation of a cold acclimation program. In addition to transient acclimation to low non-freezing temperatures and enhancing survival to short frost episodes during the growth season, perennial woody plants need additionally to survive the cold winter months. Trees have evolved a complex dynamic process controlling the development of dormancy and freezing tolerance that secures accurate initiation and termination of the overwintering process. Although the phenology of overwintering has been known for decades, only recently has there been progress in elucidating the molecular mechanisms of dormancy and freezing tolerance development in perennial plants. Current molecular and genomic studies indicate that herbaceous annual and woody perennial plants share similar cold acclimation mechanisms. Both the signal processes controlling cold acclimation and the cold-regulated target genes appear to be shared by herbaceous and woody plants. However, the dormancy development during overwintering brings new players in the molecular control of seasonal cold acclimation of woody perennials.