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Firefox4 freezes on startup after about 10 seconds. A second parallel instance of firefox works normally as long as the first instance is left alone frozen. What causes this and how can it be prevented?

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I am running firefox4 on win XP. When I start firefox, it says it is trying to restore a previous session which has only the blank tab. After about 10 seconds the whole instance of firefox freezes - none of the buttons work and the only way to close firefox is to use the Ctrl+Alt+Del and task manager. If I open a second parallel sessionof firefox, it works normally, as long as the first session is left alone (frozen). What could be causing the freeze up of the first firefox instance, and how can it be prevented?