Brassinosteroids are plant growth-promoting compounds that exhibit structural similarities to animal steroid hormones. Recent studies have indicated that brassinosteroids are essential for proper plant development. In addition to a role in development, several lines of evidence suggest that brassinosteroids exert anti-stress effects on plants. However, the mechanism by which they modulate plant stress responses is not understood. We show here that Brassica napus and tomato seedlings grown in the presence of 24-epibrassinolide (EBR) are significantly more tolerant to a lethal heat treatment than are control seedlings grown in the absence of the compound. Since a preconditioning treatment of seedlings was not required to observe this effect, we conclude that EBR treatment increases the basic thermotolerance of seedlings. An analysis of heat shock proteins (HSPs) in B. napus seedlings by western blot analysis indicated that the HSPs did not preferentially accumulate in EBR-treated seedlings at the control temperature. However, after heat stress, HSP accumulation was higher in EBR-treated than in untreated seedlings. The results of the present study provide the first direct evidence for EBR-induced expression of HSPs. The higher accumulation of HSPs in EBR-treated seedlings raises the possibility that HSPs contribute, at least in part, to thermotolerance in EBR-treated seedlings. A search for factors other than HSPs, which may directly or indirectly contribute to brassinosteroid-mediated increase in thermotolerance, is underway.