The heat shock or stress protein response is a highly conserved defense mechanism. Activation of the stress protein response by mild hyperthermia or by pharmacological agents allows cells to withstand a subsequent metabolic insult that would otherwise be lethal, a phenomenon referred as "thermotolerance" or "preconditioning." Heat shock response is characterized by increased expression of stress proteins that provide cellular protection, e.g., via increased chaperoning activity in all organisms, from bacteria to animals and humans. Indeed, there is experimental evidence that overexpression of specific heat shock proteins or heat shock factors produce protective effects similar to those observed after stress preconditioning. The purpose of this review is first to discuss the methods used to induce in vivo thermotolerance with mild hyperthermia or pharmacological agents. Then, as an example of the organ protection provided by in vivo stress preconditioning, the second part of this paper will examine how the induction of thermotolerance modulates the lung inflammatory response associated with acute lung injury, thus providing broad organ and tissue protection against oxidative stress associated this syndrome.