We compared four simulations of the 8.2 ka event to assess climate model sensitivity and skill in responding to North Atlantic freshwater perturbations. All of the simulations used the same freshwater forcing, 2.5 Sv for one year, applied to either the Hudson Bay (northeastern Canada) or Labrador Sea (between Canada's Labrador coast and Greenland). This freshwater pulse induced a decadal-mean slowdown of 10-25% in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) of the models and caused a large-scale pattern of climate anomalies that matched proxy evidence for cooling in the Northern Hemisphere and a southward shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone. The multi-model ensemble generated temperature anomalies that were just half as large as those from quantitative proxy reconstructions, however. Also, the duration of AMOC and climate anomalies in three of the simulations was only several decades, significantly shorter than the duration of ∼150 yr in the paleoclimate record. Possible reasons for these discrepancies include incorrect representation of the early Holocene climate and ocean state in the North Atlantic and uncertainties in the freshwater forcing estimates. © 2013 Author(s).