Background - Accurate diagnosis and staging of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) is important in health surveillance of vibration-exposed workers and the substantial number of related medico-legal cases. The measurement of the rewarming rate of fingers after cold provocation to the hands (CPT) has been suggested as a useful test in diagnosing HAVS. Aim - To investigate the diagnostic value of a standardized version of the CPT test using a 15 degrees C cold challenge for 5 min applied in the recent compensation assessment of UK miners. Methods - Analysis of a subset of UK miners assessed at our unit, together with data from a small repeatability study of the standardized CPT in normal subjects. Results - Rewarming time in the CPT was significantly lower in those subjects classified as vascular Stockholm stage 0 compared with Stockholm stages 1-3 combined, but did not discriminate between the stages of abnormality. Using the suggested cut-off in the CPT test, the sensitivity and specificity were calculated as 43 and 78%, respectively. Receiver operator characteristic analysis suggested that the rewarming time of highest accuracy gave a sensitivity of 66% and specificity of 59%. In 10 miners who reported unilateral hand blanching, there was no significant difference in CPT measurements between blanching and non-blanching hands. Repeat CPT measurements in normal subjects suggested mean differences of 52 and 107 s for each hand, and the Bland-Altman coefficient of repeatability was approximately 600 s for all fingers. Conclusion - Single application of this standardized CPT test may have limited value in diagnosing the vascular component of HAVS in an individual.