Abstract Human nasal septa epithelial cells (HNS) were exposed to low concentrations of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE). After an exposure of 24 h, the concentrations of heat shock proteins (Hsp) were determined after separation by gel electrophoresis and quantified with standardized Western blotting using densitometric imaging after background corrections. HNS cells showed an increase expression of the 60 kD molecular weight stress protein. The more commonly measured 70 kD Hsp appears to not increase in concentration after exposure to MTBE. This study revealed different expression patterns of Hsp to MTBE in nasal cells and showed that this applied technique might serve as a versatile screening tool to identify relevant environmental toxicants to nasal tissue.