Upon heat stress, heat shock factors (HSFs) control the expression of heat shock protein (HSP) genes by transcriptional activation. The perplexing multiplicity of HSF genes in Arabidopsis- 21 potential genes have been identified - renders it difficult to identify mutant phenotypes. In this study, we have attempted to generate a transdominant-negative mutant of HSF by transgenic expression of a protein fusion construct, EN-HSF1, consisting of the Drosophila engrailed repressor domain (EN) and the complete Arabidopsis AtHSF1. Transgenic lines were screened for impaired ability to induce high levels of low-molecular-weight heat shock proteins (sHSPs). Two lines, EH14-6 and EH16-3, which showed quantitative differences in the expression of EN-HSF1, were further analysed for induction of thermotolerance and heat-stress-dependent mRNAs of a number of different HSF target genes encoding different HSP and HSF. The mRNA levels of all genes tested were moderately downregulated in EH14-6 but strongly reduced in EH16-3 plants compared to wild-type (Wt) and HSF1-overexpressing control plants. The inhibition of the induction of heat shock response correlated with impaired basal and acquired thermotolerance of the EH16-3 line. The kinetics of HSP expression suggest that the negative effect of EN-HSF1 is stronger in the early phase of the heat shock response, and that the reduction in mRNA levels is partially compensated at the translational level.