Much of the Earth's surface, both marine and terrestrial, is either periodically or permanently cold. Although habitats that are largely or continuously frozen are generally considered to be inhospitable to life, psychrophilic organisms have managed to survive in these environments. This is attributed to their innate adaptive capacity to cope with cold and its associated stresses. Here, we review the various environmental, physiological and molecular adaptations that psychrophilic microorganisms use to thrive under adverse conditions. We also discuss the impact of modern “omic” technologies in developing an improved understanding of these adaptations, highlighting recent work in this growing field.