To improve our understanding of the mechanism causing the 8.2 ka BP event, we investigated the response of ocean circulation in the ECBilt-CLIO-VECODE (Version 3) model to various freshwater fluxes into the Labrador Sea. Starting from an early Holocene climate state we released freshwater pulses varying in volume and duration based on published estimates. In addition we tested the effect of a baseline flow (0.172 Sv) in the Labrador Sea to account for the background-melting of the Laurentide ice-sheet on the early Holocene climate and on the response of the overturning circulation. Our results imply that the amount of freshwater released is the decisive factor in the response of the ocean, while the release duration only plays a minor role, at least when considering the short release durations (1, 2 and 5 years) of the applied freshwater pulses. Furthermore, the experiments with a baseline flow produce a more realistic early Holocene climate state without Labrador Sea Water formation. Meltwater pulses introduced into this climate state produce a prolonged weakening of the overturning circulation compared to an early Holocene climate without baseline flow, and therefore less freshwater is needed to produce an event of similar duration. © Springer-Verlag 2006.