Compared to the overall multiplicity of more than 20 plant Hsfs, detailed analyses are mainly restricted to tomato and Arabidopsis and to three important representatives of the family (Hsfs A1, A2 and B1). The three Hsfs represent examples of striking functional diversification specialized for the three phases of the heat stress (hs) response (triggering, maintenance and recovery). This is best illustrated for the tomato Hsf system: (i) HsfA1a is the master regulator responsible for hs-induced gene expression including synthesis of HsfA2 and HsfB1. It is indispensible for the development of thermotolerance. (ii) Although functionally equivalent to HsfA1a, HsfA2 is exclusively found after hs induction and represents the dominant Hsf, the "working horse" of the hs response in plants subjected to repeated cycles of hs and recovery in a hot summer period. Tomato HsfA2 is tightly integrated into a network of interacting proteins (HsfA1a, Hsp17-CII, Hsp17-CI) influencing its activity and intracellular distribution. (iii) Because of structural peculiarities, HsfB1 acts as coregulator enhancing the activity of HsfA1a and/or HsfA2. But in addition, it cooperates with yet to be identified other transcription factors in maintaining and/or restoring housekeeping gene expression.