Abstract Cultured cortical neurons and astrocytes were compared for synthesis of the major inducible 68 kDa heat shock protein. By one- and two-dimensional electrophoresis the inducible 68 kDa protein appeared similar, but astrocytes produced greater amounts of the protein by 3 h than did neurons. Antibodies raised against HeLa cell inducible 72 and constitutive 73 kDa heat shock proteins were used to characterizes the inducible heat shock proteins in neurons and astrocytes. Unlike the gels, major differences were noted of the major inducible heat shock protein in astrocytes compared with neurons when analyzed by Western immunoblots. Heat shock protein 68 kDa mRNA induction in neurons was less than astrocytes suggesting an attenuated inducible 68 kDa heat shock protein response in neurons. The neuronal protein may be a different isoform of the 70 kDa family of heat shock proteins.