This study examined the role of heating on oxidative stress and muscle mass in immobilized limbs. Rats were divided into three groups (n = 9/group): a control group (Con), an immobilized group (Im), and an immobilized and heated group (ImH). Rats were immobilized in the plantarflexed position for 8 days. The core temperature of the ImH group was elevated to 41-41.5 degrees C on alternating days and maintained for 30 min before cooling. On day 8, both heat shock protein 25 (HSP25) and HSP72 were markedly elevated in the ImH compared with the Im group, whereas results in the Im group were not different from Con. Most notably, the ImH group had significantly larger solei compared with the Im group, which were less than those shown in the Con group. Furthermore, immobilization alone caused a significant increase in oxidative damage, and the addition of heating to immobilization significantly reduced oxidative damage. In an effort to further identify the cause of this protective effect, antioxidant enzyme activities were assessed. CuZnSOD was sharply elevated in Im compared (P < 0.025) with that in the Con and reduced in the ImH group compared with that in the Im group (P < 0.025). Catalase was elevated 8% (P < 0.025) in the Im group compared with the Con group and was similar to the ImH group. Glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, and MnSOD did not differ between groups. These data indicate that heating provides protection against oxidative stress and preserves muscle mass during disuse atrophy. These data also suggest that antioxidant protection is not conferred via antioxidant enzymes, and HSPs may play an important role.