The constitutive expression of the genes for four heat shock proteins (hsps) was studied in leukemia cell lines, cells obtained from patients with acute leukemia, and normal blood cells by means of Northern-blot analysis. Western-blot analysis with hsp90 antibody showed that the leukemia cells contained larger amounts of hsp90 than the normal peripheral mononuclear cells. The expression of the hsp90 alpha gene was enhanced in the leukemia cell lines and the acute leukemia cells from patients as compared with the normal blood cells. In contrast, the expression of the hsp90 beta gene could hardly be recognized in either the acute leukemia cells or the normal blood cells. An increased expression of hsp70 gene was observed in only one patient. The expression of the hsp27 gene was enhanced in one-half the patients with common acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Thus, exclusively the hsp90 alpha gene was expressed highly in the leukemia cells, indicating its association with cellular proliferation.