Heat shock protein levels are increased in cells as a result of exposure to stress. To determine whether heat shock protein regulation could be used to evaluate stress in cells during spaceflight, the response of Jurkat cells to spaceflight and simulated space shuttle launch vibration was investigated by evaluating hsp70 and hsp27 gene expression. Gene expression was assessed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction using mRNA extracted from vibrated, nonvibrated, space-flown, and ground control cells. Results indicate that mechanical stresses of vibration and low gravity do not up-regulate the mRNA for hsp70, although the gene encoding hsp27 is up-regulated by spaceflight but not by vibration. In ground controls, the mRNA for hsp70 and hsp27 increased with time in culture. We conclude that hsp70 gene expression is a useful indicator of stress related to culture density but is not an indicator of the stresses of launch vibration or microgravity. Up-regulation of hsp27 gene expression in microgravity is a new finding.