The emission probabilities and the energy distributions of tritons, α and 6He particles emitted in the spontaneous ternary fission (zero excitation energy) of 250Cf and 252Cf and in the cold neutron induced fission (excitation energy ≈6.5 MeV) of 249Cf and 251Cf are determined. The particle identification was done with suited ΔE–E telescope detectors, at the IRMM (Geel, Belgium) for the spontaneous fission and at the ILL (Grenoble, France) for the neutron induced fission measurements. Hence particle emission characteristics of the fissioning systems 250Cf and 252Cf are obtained at zero and at about 6.5 MeV excitation energies. While the triton emission probability is hardly influenced by the excitation energy, the 4He and 6He emission probability in spontaneous fission is higher than for neutron induced fission. This can be explained by the strong influence of the cluster preformation probability on the ternary particle emission probability.