The heat-shock responses of barley (Hordeum vulgare L. cv Hi- malaya) aleurone layers incubated with or without gibberellic acid (GA3) were compared. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis revealed that heat shock blocked the synthesis and secretion of secretory proteins from GA3-treated layers but not untreated layers. This suppression of secretory protein synthesis has been correlated with changes in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membranes (F.C. Belanger, M. R. Brodl, T.-h.D. Ho  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 83: 1354-1358; L. Sticher, A.K. Biswas, D.S. Bush, R.L. Jones  Plant Physiol 92: 506-513). Our secretion data suggested that the ER membranes of aleurone layers incubated without GA3 may be more heat shock tolerant. To investigate this, the lipid profiles of membrane extracts in aleurone layers labeled with [14C]glycerol were examined. Heat shock markedly increased [14C]glycerol incorporation into phosphatidylcholine (PC), and gas chromatography revealed an increase in the amount of saturated fatty acids associated with thin layer chromatography-purified PC in GA3-treated layers. In contrast, aleurone layers incubated without GA3 at normal temperature contained PC-associated fatty acids with a greater degree of saturation than GA3-treated layers. Heat shock modestly increased the degree of fatty acid saturation in untreated aleurone layers. This same trend was noted in fatty acids isolated from ER membranes purified by continuous sucrose density centrifugation. We propose that increased fatty acid saturation may help sustain ER membrane function in heat-shocked aleurone layers incubated in the absence of GA3.