The literature on relationships between climatic variables and growth rates of boreal tree species was reviewed from sources in North America, the USSR, and the Scandinavian countries, with emphasis on information from Canada. An annotated bibliography of 329 references, covering references up to the end of 1981, provides background information for a synthesis of climatic factors or processes that influence boreal biomass accumulation rates, nonclimatic factors or processes that influence boreal biomass accumulation rates, influence of boreal biomass burning on atmospheric CO2 levels, boreal climate-biomass relationships, and knowledge gaps. Factors that influence growth rates of boreal tree species were grouped into those causing an increase in net primary productivity and those causing a decrease in productivity. Among the climatic factors, temperature-related variables exert more-obvious controls over primary productivity in boreal forest ecosystems than do moisture-related variables. Forest productivity changes induced by climatic variation may be masked by the growth-controlling influences of topography (aspect), soil moisture and nutrients, ecological succession, and forest fire history. Among the many knowledge gaps pertaining to climate/biomass relationships, those of fundamental importance center around the linkages between fluctuating atmospheric circulation patterns and climatic conditions at regional and local levels.