Emerging applications of wireless sensor networks (WSNs) require real-time quality of service (QoS) guarantees to be provided by the network. However, designing real-time scheduling and communication solutions for these networks is challenging since the characteristics of QoS metrics in WSNs are not well known yet. Due to the nature of wireless connectivity, it is infeasible to satisfy worst-case QoS requirements in WSNs. Instead, probabilistic QoS guarantees should be provided, which requires the definition of probabilistic QoS metrics. To provide an analytical tool for the development of real-time solutions, in this paper, the distribution of end-to-end delay in multi-hop WSNs is investigated. Accordingly, a comprehensive and accurate cross-layer analysis framework, which employs a stochastic queueing model in realistic channel environments, is developed. This framework captures the heterogeneity in WSNs in terms of channel quality, transmit power, queue length, and communication protocols. A case study with the TinyOS CSMA/CA MAC protocol is conducted to show how the developed framework can analytically predict the distribution of end-to-end delay. Testbed experiments are provided to validate the developed model. The cross-layer framework can be used to identify the relationships between network parameters and the distribution of end-to-end delay and accordingly, to design real-time solutions for WSNs. Our ongoing work suggests that this framework can be easily extended to model additional QoS metrics such as energy consumption distribution. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work to investigate probabilistic QoS guarantees in WSNs.