Open-cell ceramic foams are being considered for a variety of applications owing to their high permeability and low weight, including molten metal filters, catalytic substrates and radiant burners. In these applications, foams are exposed to high temperatures and thermal gradients and thus the materials used require resistance to severe thermal stresses during service. Unfortunately, little is known about the thermal shock behaviour of cordierite foams when subjected to sudden changes in temperature. The objective of the present study was to investigate the thermal shock behaviour of two kinds of cordierite-based ceramic foams manufactured by the replication process. Thermal shock experiments were carried out by rapidly transferring the heated samples from a resistance furnace to a quenching bath containing distilled water followed by measuring of the retained flexural strength. Unlike dense cordierite samples that showed a sudden decrease in flexural strength at quench temperature differences above 325 K, the strength retained after thermal shock by open-cell cordierite foams decreased gradually with increasing quench temperatures. This suggests a cumulative damage mechanism reflecting an increase in damage throughout the material rather than sudden failure owing to propagation of pre-existing cracks.