Heat shock proteins (Hsp) are families of phylogenetically conserved molecules that have a range of cytoprotective and intracellular functional roles. Reactivity to heat shock proteins has been implicated in the development of autoimmune disease and tissue expression of heat shock proteins and increased levels of anti-Hsp antibodies have also been reported in vascular disease. This study compared circulating levels of Hsp60 and Hsp70 and antihuman Hsp60, antihuman Hsp70, and antimycobacterial Hsp65 antibodies in peripheral (PVD) and renal (RVD) vascular disease with those in age- and sex-matched controls. Levels of Hsp70 were higher in both PVD (median 580 vs 40; P < 0.01) and RVD (median 160 vs 0; P < 0.03), whereas there were no differences in Hsp60 levels. Anti-Hsp60 antibody levels were elevated in PVD (146 vs 81 arbitrary units/ml; P < 0.04), but not RVD. This is the first study to demonstrate increased levels of circulating Hsp70 in pathological disease states; however, its physiological role remains to be determined.