Heat shock proteins (HSPs) play a central role in cell protection and repair upon stresses, such as that caused by heat and heavy metals. Copper sulfate inducibility of a pHhsp70 construct expressing the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) gene under the control of the exogenous human hsp70 promoter was tested in transfected CHSE 214 cells and transgenic zebrafish (Danio rerio). We developed a transient expression system, using mosaically transgenic zebrafish, which allows rapid analysis of transgenic expression. Transfected CHSE 214 cells which had been exposed to 250 nM and 2.5 μM copper sulfate for up to 24 h showed increased EGFP expression in a dose-dependent manner. The 1.5 μM copper sulfate caused stronger EGFP fluorescence than the 1.0 μM copper sulfate in transgenic zebrafish. Most of the expression was spotty and was detected in the gills, dorsal and ventral retina, myotubes of the trunk, and skin epithelium. Transgenic zebrafish exposed to copper sulfate exhibited gross dysmorphogenesis, edema and trunk abnormalities, such as spinal lordosis, in vertebral development 5 days after fertilization. This transgenic zebrafish system was sensitive enough to detect copper sulfate at doses below the median lethal concentration (the LC50 was calculated to be 1.2 μM (95% confidence interval of 0.6–1.9 μM)). These results indicate that zebrafish could be useful transgenic biosensor systems for the detection of xenobiotic toxicants in the environment.