Terrestrial arthropods in the Arctic and Antarctic are exposed to extreme and variable temperatures, and climate change is predicted to be especially pronounced in these regions. Available ecophysiological studies on terrestrial ectotherms from the Arctic and Antarctic typically focus on the ability of species to tolerate the extreme low temperatures that can occur in these regions, whereas studies investigating species plasticity and the importance of evolutionary adaptation to periodically high and increasing temperatures are limited. Here, we provide an overview of current knowledge on thermal adaptation to high temperatures of terrestrial arthropods in Arctic and Antarctic regions. Firstly, we summarize the literature on heat tolerance for terrestrial arthropods in these regions, and discuss variation in heat tolerance across species, habitats and polar regions. Secondly, we discuss the potential for species to cope with increasing and more variable temperatures through thermal plasticity and evolutionary adaptation. Thirdly, we summarize our current knowledge of the underlying physiological adjustments to heat stress in arthropods from polar regions. It is clear that very little data are available on the heat tolerance of arthropods in polar regions, but that large variation in arthropod thermal tolerance exists across polar regions, habitats and species. Further, the species investigated show unique physiological adjustments to heat stress, such as their ability to respond quickly to increasing or extreme temperatures. To understand the consequences of climate change on terrestrial arthropods in polar regions, we suggest that more studies on the ability of species to cope with stressful high and variable temperatures are needed.