Background Following colonization of new habitats and subsequent selection, adaptation to environmental conditions might be expected to be rapid. In a mountain lake in Norway, Lesjaskogsvatnet, more than 20 distinct spawning demes of grayling have been established since the lake was colonized, some 20-25 generations ago. The demes spawn in tributaries consistently exhibiting either colder or warmer temperature conditions during spawning in spring and subsequent early development during early summer. In order to explore the degree of temperature-related divergence in early development, a multi-temperature common-garden experiment was performed on embryos from four different demes experiencing different spring temperatures. Results Early developmental characters were measured to test if individuals from the four demes respond differently to the treatment temperatures. There was clear evidence of among-deme differences (genotype - environment interactions) in larval growth and yolk-to-body-size conversion efficiency. Under the cold treatment regime, larval growth rates were highest for individuals belonging to cold streams. Individuals from warm streams had the highest yolk-consumption rate under cold conditions. As a consequence, yolk-to-body-mass conversion efficiency was highest for cold-deme individuals under cold conditions. As we observed response parallelism between individuals from demes belonging to similar thermal groups for these traits, some of the differentiation seems likely to result from local adaptation Conclusion The observed differences in length at age during early larval development most likely have a genetic component, even though both directional and random processes are likely to have influenced evolutionary change in the demes under study.