Abstract The hsp70 level in the bodies of 1st instars of grasshoppers Chorthippus brunneus from unpolluted (Pilica) and polluted (Olkusz, Szopienice) sites and additionally exposed to various doses of zinc during diapause and embryonic development prior to hatching were measured by Western blotting. The main aim of our work was to assess the relationship between the age of female grasshoppers originating from variously polluted habitat and the hsp70 level in their progeny. Possible reasons for population variation in hsp70 levels were discussed. The hsp70 level in the offspring's body depended on the place of origin. The strongest expression of hsp70 was found in the bodies of larvae hatching from the eggs laid by young females from Pilica (reference site). In contrast, a low initial level of hsp70 in larvae from polluted sites, especially in young females’ progeny, was observed. The application of zinc during diapause influenced the hsp70 level in grasshopper larvae; however, the direction of the changes depended on the insects’ place of origin. In larvae from the reference site, and also (but to a lesser degree) from Olkusz, the increase in the hsp70 level after zinc treatment was most pronounced. Whereas in grasshoppers from Szopienice, zinc (in 100 μg g −1 dry weight of sand) did not change the hsp70 level, or (in 500 μg g −1 dry weight of sand) caused a reduction in hsp70. The differences may result from maternal effects; however, possible adaptation also cannot be excluded. To confirm this statement further studies are needed.