We estimated genetic and maternal variance components of larval life history characters in alpine populations of Rana temporaria (the common frog) using a full-sib/half-sib breeding design. We studied trait plasticity by raising tadpoles at 14 or 20 degrees C in the laboratory. Larval period and metamorphic mass were greater at 14 degrees C. Larval period did not differ between populations, but high elevation metamorphs were larger than low elevation metamorphs. Significant additive variation for larval period was detected in the low altitude population. No significant additive variation was detected for mass at metamorphosis (MM), which instead displayed significant maternal effects. Plasticity in metamorphic mass of froglets was greater in the high altitude population. The plastic response of larval period to temperature did not differ between the populations. Evolution of metamorphic mass is likely constrained by lack of additive genetic variation. In contrast, significant heritability for larval period suggests this trait may evolve in response to environmental change. These results differ from other studies on R. temporaria, suggesting that populations of this broadly distributed species present substantial geographic variation in the genetic architecture and plasticity of tadpole life history traits.