Little is known about how old‐growth and massive forests are responding to environmental change. We investigated tree‐ring growth and carbon isotopes of the long‐lived and high biomass Fitzroya cupressoid es in two stands growing in contrasting environmental conditions in the Coastal Range (~300 years old) and Andean Cordilleras (>1500 years old) of southern Chile. The interannual variability in δ13C was assessed for the period 1800–2010, and changes in discrimination and intrinsic water use efficiency (iWUE) were evaluated in relation to changes in climate and tree‐ring growth during the last century. 13C discrimination has significantly decreased, and iWUE has increased since the 1900s in both sites. However, these trends in isotopic composition have been accompanied by different growth patterns: decreasing growth rates in the Coastal Range since the 1970s and increasing growth rates in the Andes since the 1900s. Trees growing in the Coastal Range have become more efficient in their use of water, probably due to reduced stomatal conductance caused by increases in CO2 and warming. Trees growing in the Andes have also become more water use efficient, but this has been likely due to increased photosynthetic rates. Fitzroya forests, including particularly old‐growth stands, are responding to recent environmental changes, and their response has been site dependent. The growth of forests under a more Mediterranean climate influence and restrictive soil conditions in the Coastal Range has been more negatively affected by current warming and drying; while the growth of old stands in the wet Andes has been positively affected by changes in climate (decreasing cloudiness) and increasing CO2. Permanent monitoring of these endangered forests under ongoing environmental changes is needed in order to reassure the long‐term preservation of this millennial‐aged species.