Key message: Infinium SNP data analysed as continuous intensity ratios enabled associating genotypic and phenotypic data from heterogeneous oat samples, showing that association mapping for frost tolerance is a feasible option.Abstract: Oat is sensitive to freezing temperatures, which restricts the cultivation of fall-sown or winter oats to regions with milder winters. Fall-sown oats have a longer growth cycle, mature earlier, and have a higher productivity than spring-sown oats, therefore improving frost tolerance is an important goal in oat breeding. Our aim was to test the effectiveness of a Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) for mapping QTLs related to frost tolerance, using an approach that tolerates continuously distributed signals from SNPs in bulked samples from heterogeneous accessions. A collection of 138 European oat accessions, including landraces, old and modern varieties from 27 countries was genotyped using the Infinium 6K SNP array. The SNP data were analyzed as continuous intensity ratios, rather than converting them into discrete values by genotype calling. PCA and Ward’s clustering of genetic similarities revealed the presence of two main groups of accessions, which roughly corresponded to Continental Europe and Mediterranean/Atlantic Europe, although a total of eight subgroups can be distinguished. The accessions were phenotyped for frost tolerance under controlled conditions by measuring fluorescence quantum yield of photosystem II after a freezing stress. GWAS were performed by a linear mixed model approach, comparing different corrections for population structure. All models detected three robust QTLs, two of which co-mapped with QTLs identified earlier in bi-parental mapping populations. The approach used in the present work shows that SNP array data of heterogeneous hexaploid oat samples can be successfully used to determine genetic similarities and to map associations to quantitative phenotypic traits.