Bisnucleosides polyphosphates are thought to be chemical messengers signalling to the cell the onset of various stresses. Diadenosine tri- and tetraphosphates (respectively, Ap3A and Ap4A) accumulate in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells under heat shock conditions, suggesting they could trigger the synthesis of heat shock proteins (hsps). In this study, Ap4A, Ap3A and, as a control, Ap4 (adenosine tetraphosphate) were injected into Xenopus oocytes. Whereas none of these compounds is able to trigger the synthesis of hsps in the absence of hyperthermic treatment, nuclear microinjection of Ap4A after a mild heat shock specifically enhances the synthesis of the 70-kd hsp, which is involved in the regulation and possibly the termination of the heat shock response. The microinjection of Ap4A prior to the hyperthermic treatment results in a strong inhibition of hsps synthesis (with the exception of the 70-kd hsp) suggesting that Ap4A is involved in the regulation and/or termination of the heat shock response. Ap3A and Ap4 do not induce any detectable modification of hsps expression.