DnaJ-like proteins are molecular chaperones that regulate Hsp70 ATPase activity both in protein folding, assembly and disassembly of protein complexes. Here we report the isolation of MsJ1, an alfalfa gene encoding a protein homologous to cytosolic DnaJ-like proteins. MsJ1 was induced under heat-shock treatment in both leaves and stems of adult plants. In the absence of heat shock MsJ1 expression was tissue-specific with the highest levels of mRNA in roots and in embryonal structures. High levels of transcript were also detected in cotyledons where active degradation of storage protein occurs. In synchronized alfalfa suspension-cultured cells the MsJ1 transcript was actively expressed and showed a phase-specific modulation during cell cycle with a 2-fold induction in G2/M. These findings suggest that DnaJ-like proteins play an active role in regulating normal cellular events like protein degradation, morphogenesis and cell cycle progression.