Fennoscandia is characterized by a large degree of climatic diversity. Vegetation phenology may respond differently to climate change according to the climatic gradients within the region. To map the annual and spatial variability of the start of the growing season (SOS) in Fennoscandia, the twice-monthly GIMMS-NDVI satellite dataset was used. The data set has an 8 x 8 km(2) spatial resolution and covers the period from 1982 to 2002. The mapping was done by applying pixel-specific threshold values to the NDVI data. These threshold values were determined form surface phenology data on birch (Betula sp.). Then, we produced NDVI based maps of SOS for each of the 21 years. Finally, the time differences between the SOS and the last day of snow cover, as well as dates of passing different temperatures, were analyzed for 21 meteorological stations. The analyses showed that 1985 was the most extreme year in terms of late SOS. In terms of early SOS, the year 1990 was by far the most extreme. Locally, the SOS has an average range of 1 month between the earliest and latest recorded SOS, with a trend towards a bigger range in the oceanic parts. The results indicate that a 1 degrees C increase in spring temperatures in general corresponds to an advancement of 5-6 days in SOS. However, there is a clear trend according to the degree of oceanity, with a 1 degrees C increase in the most oceanic parts corresponding roughly to 7-9 days earlier SOS, compared to less than 5 days earlier in the continental parts.