Crabs of the Bythograeidae family (Crustacea: Brachyura: Bythogreoidea) are the only endemic crab family living in hydrothermal fields. The hydrothermal environment is characterized by unique ecological parameters, such as the high temperature gradient around the hydrothermal chimney (2-350 degrees C), a fluid environment containing high levels of metals and numerous gases. The 70-kDa Heat Shock Protein (HSP70) group is the most-studied HSP, because it is ubiquitous, and a strong positive correlation has been found between the amounts of HSP70 produced in response to stress, and the ability of the organism to withstand stressful conditions. The 70-kDa heat shock protein genes from Bythograeids (species analyzed: Bythograea thermydron, Cyanagraea praedator and Segonzacia mesatlantica) were characterized. Our results revealed that Bythograeidae possess genes which are similar with those present in Xanthids (coastal crabs). The deduced protein sequences displayed motifs distinct from those in the other crustacean HSC70/HSP70s available in the databases. Phylogenetic analysis showed that these members of HSP70 family identified in Bythograeidae and Xanthidae constitute a new subgroup within this family.