In order to survive in extreme environments, organisms need to develop special adaptations both on physiological and molecular levels. The sleeping chironomid Polypedilum vanderplanki, inhabiting temporary water pools in semi-arid regions of Africa, is the only insect to have evolutionarily acquired the ability to withstand prolonged complete desiccation at larval stage, entering a state called anhydrobiosis. Even after years in a dry state, larvae are able to revive within a short period of time, completely restoring metabolism. Because of the possible involvement of stress proteins in the preservation of biomolecules during the anhydrobiosis of the sleeping chironomid, we have analyzed the expression of genes encoding six heat shock proteins (Pv-hsp90, Pv-hsp70, Pv-hsc70, Pv-hsp60, Pv-hsp20, and Pv-p23) and one heat shock factor (Pv-hsf1) in dehydrating, rehydrating, and heat-shocked larvae. All examined genes were significantly up-regulated in the larvae upon dehydration and several patterns of expression were detected. Gene transcript of Pv-hsf1 was up-regulated within 8 h of desiccation, followed by large shock proteins expression reaching peak at 24–48 h of desiccation. Heat-shock-responsive Pv-hsp70 and Pv-hsp60 showed a two-peak expression: in dehydrating and rehydrating larvae. Both small alpha-crystallin heat shock proteins (sHSP) transcripts were accumulated in the desiccated larvae, but showed different expression profiles. Both sHSP-coding genes were found to be heat-inducible, and Pv-hsp20 was up-regulated in the larvae at the early stage of desiccation. In contrast, expression of the second transcript, corresponding to Pv-p23, was limited to the late stages of desiccation, suggesting possible involvement of this protein in the glass-state formation in anhydrobiotic larvae. We discuss possible roles of proteins encoded by these stress genes during the different stages of anhydrobiosis in P. vanderplanki.