Two members of the heat shock transcription factor family, HSF1 and HSF2, have been identified as activators of mammalian heat shock gene expression. HSF1 acts as a classical stress-responsive factor, whereas HSF2 might play a role in embryogenesis, since it is active during pre- and post-implantation periods up to 15.5 days of mouse embryonic development. In this study, we analyzed HSF1 and HSF2 expression and activation during mouse heart formation. Our results show an abundant expression of HSF1 throughout heart development. In contrast, expression of the alternatively spliced HSF2-alpha and HSF2-beta, and an additional higher molecular weight isoform is strongly upregulated in the developing mouse heart at E11.5-12.5, a stage after which tubular heart has looped and chambers formed, and the myocardial walls are maturating and the valves differentiating. At the same developmental stage, HSF2 DNA-binding activity is transiently induced, whereas the weak HSE-binding activity, which is detected throughout heart development, consists primarily of HSF1. Interestingly, heat shock gene expression shows no temporal or spatial correlation with HSF2 expression and activation. Taken together, our results indicate that HSF2 activation is associated with specific stages of heart formation but is not involved in the regulation of inducible heat shock gene expression.