D/H ratios of fluid inclusion waters extracted from 230Th/234U-dated speleothems that were originally deposited under conditions of isotopic equilibrium should provide a direct estimate of the hydrogen isotopic composition of ancient meteoric waters. We present here D/H ratios for 47 fluid inclusion samples from thirteen speleothems deposited over the past 250,000 years at cave sites in Iowa, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri. At each site glacial-age waters are depleted in deuterium relative to those of interglacial age. The average interglacial/glacial shift in the hydrogen isotopic composition of meteoric precipitation over ice-free areas of east-central North America is estimated to be -12???. This shift is consistent with the present climatic models and can be explained in terms of the prevailing pattern of atmospheric circulation and an increased ocean-continent temperature gradient during glacial times which more than compensated for the increase in deuterium content of the world ocean. ?? 1979.