Heat shock-induced alterations in protein synthesis and the cytoskeleton of two mammalian cell types have been investigated. A hyperthermic treatment of 30 min at 43°C causes an accumulation of heat shock proteins (HSPs). The apparent molecular weights of HSPs of Reuber H35 hepatoma cells and of N2A neuroblastoma cells are 28 000, 65 000, 68 000, 70000, 84 000, 100000 D and 68 000, 70 000, 84 000 and 100 000 D respectively. Hyperthermia induces the disruption of microfilaments in hepatoma cells. Microtubules and intermediate filaments (vimentin and cytokeratin) remain intact. In neuroblastoma cells microfilaments remain intact whereas microtobules become disorganized after heat shock. As a result vimentin is found as a perinuclear aggregate. These cells were still able to synthesize heat shock proteins after pretreatment with cytoskeleton disrupting drugs such as dihydroxycytochalasin B and colchicine. Therefore it is concluded that the alterations in the cytoskeleton observed after the heat treatment are unlikely to be the cause of heat shock protein synthesis. Our results suggest that these heat shock-induced alterations in the cytoskeleton can be considered as a part of the heat shock response.