Mallory bodies (MBs) are aggresomes, composed of cytokeratin and various other proteins, which form in diseased liver because of disruption in the ubiquitin-proteasome protein degradation pathway. Heat shock proteins (hsp's) are thought to be involved in this process because it was discovered that MB formation is induced by heat shock in drug-primed mice. It has been reported that ubiquitin and a mutant form of ubiquitin (UBB(+1)) are found in aggresomes formed in the neurons in Alzheimer's disease and in the liver MBs in various liver diseases. In addition, hsp 70 has been found in aggresomes in Alzheimer's and in MBs in drug-primed mice. Therefore, we hypothesized that hsp's might be involved in MB formation in human liver diseases. Liver biopsy sections were double-stained using ubiquitin and hsp 70 or 90b antibodies. Both hsps 70 and 90b were found in MBs in all liver diseases investigated including primary billiary cirrhosis, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, hepatitis B and C, idiopathic cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Ubiquitin and the hsp's colocalized in all MBs in the diseased liver sections. These results indicate that hsp involvement in MB formation is similar to that seen in aggresome formation in other conformational diseases.