Measurements of surface strain and vertical heave responses to swell were made on a tabular ice island in Kong Oscars Fjord, east Greenland, in September 1978. At two sites surface strain was measured with a wire strainmeter of 2 m gauge length, and heave was measured with a vertical accelerometer. While the first site was occupied a simultaneous measurement of ambient wave energy was made with a wave buoy. The results show that the ice island flexes and heaves in response to the longest component only of the forcing wave field, at periods above 16 s, and with a mean strain amplitude of the order of 5 × 10−7. The results are compared with theoretical calculations of the response of a thick floating beam. In the light of the theory, the flexural behaviour of tabular icebergs and sea-ice floes is considered and their critical size ranges in relation to sea state are estimated.