The extreme coloniality in emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) demands that (1) individual recognition by the mutual display call must be supremely adapted to the total absence of nest sites — landmarks that would facilitate partner reunion, and (2) birds must transmit a precise message through an obstructed and noisy environment. A computerized sound analysis and subsequent data were submitted to univariate and multivariate statistics to determine individual-specific cues of the call. Temporal patterning of syllables, variables of the power spectrum (frequency and timbre features) and variables of a beat generated by two acoustic sources were analyzed (58 calls from 7 animals). Number and duration of syllables, fundamental frequencies and period of the beat were highly individual, with inter- significantly greater then intra-individual variation, enabling correct classification of the 58 calls. The respective relevance of temporal and spectral cues for individual recognition is discussed. In the acoustically hostile and noisy environment, beat was peculiarly emphasized, as it allowed great precision in the production of an amplitude modulation that was unlikely to be degraded by the environment.