International Journal of Production Economics, v. 205, 163-178. Abstract: Economic growth increases the need for continuous improvement of logistic processes. In this context, comprehensive services and high-level operational performance are competitive advantages, with special attention to refrigeration services in the cold chain. This study’s main objective is to determine the variables that significantly affect the efficiency of third-party logistics (3PL) providers of refrigeration services and propose ways to improve the competitiveness of specialized 3PLs. This study uses Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) and robust regression approach in secondary data from the annual study published by Revista Tecnologística (years 2008–2016). The aim is to measure the impact of contextual variables on the efficiency of Brazilian 3PL providers of refrigeration services. Results indicate that, in fact, pure, technical and scale efficiency levels are differently impacted by the type of technology adopted and the services offered, what leaves room opened for the adoption of different measures and operational practices to increase efficiency levels in its different dimensions. The study provides guidance for managers who wish to establish or adapt specialized 3PL structures and management systems in cold chains. Our study is the first to help identifying the main determinants of efficiency for 3PL providers of refrigeration services in an emerging economy. Further, it develops performance benchmarks for specialized logistics services.