We applied a Raman spectroscopy approach to investigate the effect of a cryoprotectant on the redox state of cytochromes on freezing yeast cells. The redox activity of cytochromes was studied using time-resolved photobleaching of the resonance Raman lines. It is found that ice formation causes a drastic change in the redox state of cytochromes in cells frozen without cryoprotectant, whereas in the presence of glycerol the effects of ice formation are more gradual. The photobleaching rate of cells frozen in glycerol solution shows a gradual slowing with temperature decrease and an abrupt slowdown below − 48 °C. This abrupt decrease was interpreted as originating from changes in protein conformational dynamics. Our findings provide important new insights into the transition from active to inactive cytochrome states as cells undergo freezing in the presence and absence of cryoprotectant.