Cold-blooded animals, which cannot directly control their body temperatures, have adapted to function within specific temperature ranges that vary between species. However, little is known about what sets the limits of the viable temperature range. Here we show that the speed of the first cell division in C. elegans N2 varies with temperature according to the Arrhenius equation. However, it does so only within certain limits. Outside these limits we observe alterations in the cell cycle. Interestingly, these temperature limits also correspond to the animal's fertile range. In C. briggsae AF16, isolated from a warmer climatic region, both the fertile range and the temperature range over which the speed of cell division follows the Arrhenius equation, are shifted toward higher temperatures. Our findings suggest that the viable range of an organism can be adapted in part to a different thermal range by adjusting the temperature tolerance of cell division.