The comparison of temperature responses of two mytilids from the high (Brachidontes purpuratus) and low (Semimytilus algosus) intertidal zone of the Peruvian coast was carried out focusing on the production of micronucleus and nuclear abnormalities in gill tissue. Two temperatures (23 and 11°C) were evaluated, in presence of three mitomycin C concentrations as a stressor (0.02, 0.04 and 0.06 × 10-6), simulating hypothetical El Niño and La Niña conditions. Responses to extreme temperatures between both species were significantly different (P = 0.008). Frequency of micronuclei and nuclear abnormalities in S. algosus did not differ statistically among the temperature treatments, whereas in B. purpuratus there was an observed significant decrease in nuclear abnormalities (P = 0.012) and micronuclei frequencies (P = 0.002) between both temperature treatments. The low frequency of micronuclei observed at high temperature and mitomycin C suggests a better efficiency to stress resistance, as occurs during El Niño events, of the species from the higher intertidal zone of B. purpuratus compared to S. algosus from the lower intertidal zone. © Springer-Verlag and AWI 2008.