Vertebrate cells contain at least 12 different genes for Hsp70 proteins, 3 of which are encoded in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class III region. In the human MHC, these are named Hsp70-1, -2, and -Hom. To characterize these proteins, we have determined their substrate binding specificity, their cellular and tissue distribution, and the regulation of their expression. We show for the first time (1) peptide binding specificity of Hsp70-Hom; (2) endogenous expression of Hsp70-Hom in human cell lines; (3) cytoplasmic location of Hsp70-Hom protein under basal conditions and concentration in the nucleus after heat shock; (4) unique RNA expression profiles in human tissues for each of the MHC-encoded Hsp70s, significantly different from that for the constitutive Hsc70; (5) a relative increase in levels of Hsp70-Hom protein, compared with other Hsp70s, in response to interferon gamma; and (6) a specific increase on lipopolysaccharide (LPS) treatment of in vivo messenger RNA levels for the MHC-encoded Hsp70s and the DnaJ homologue, hdj2, relative to other chaperones. The unique tissue distributions and specific up-regulation by LPS of the MHC-encoded Hsp70s suggest some specialization of functions for these members of the Hsp70 family, possibly in the inflammatory response.