A monoclonal antibody (29A) directed against rat liver heat shock protein M(r) 90,000 (hsp90) was produced. By Western immunoblotting of cytosols prepared from several different tissues and species, 29A was shown to specifically recognize only one band with M(r) approximately 90,000. Localization of hsp90 in human gingival fibroblasts was studied using the 29A antibody by indirect mono- and double-staining immunofluorescence and confocal laser scanning microscopy. The distribution was compared to that of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and various cytoskeletal structures. Cells were analyzed in interphase and mitosis under basal culture conditions, after heat shock and after microtubule and microfilament depolymerization, sometimes combined with heat shock. A major part of hsp90 immunoreactivity was diffusely distributed throughout the interphase cytoplasm, but a weak nuclear staining with non-stained nucleoli was also present, however, only detectable after methanol and not after formaldehyde/Triton X-100 fixation. Heat shock induced a time-dependent translocation of hsp90 from the cytoplasm to the cell nucleus reaching a plateau after 15 h. This compartment shift was reversible and also occurred in the absence of intact microtubules or intact microfilaments.