The aim of this study was to determine whether high-frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) could induce cellular effects. The human trophoblast cell line HTR-8/SVneo was used as a model to evaluate the expression of proteins (HSP70 and HSC70) and genes (HSP70A, B, C and HSC70) of the HSP70 family and the primary DNA damage response after nonthermal exposure to pulse-modulated 1817 MHz sinusoidal waves (GSM-217 Hz; 1 h; SAR of 2 W/kg). HSP70 expression was significantly enhanced by heat, which was applied as the prototypical stimulus. The HSP70A, B and C transcripts were differentially expressed under basal conditions, and they were all significantly induced above basal levels by thermal stress. Conversely, HSC70 protein and gene expression was not influenced by heat. Exposing HTR-8/SVneo cells to high-frequency EMFs did not change either HSP70 or HSC70 protein or gene expression. A significant increase in DNA strand breaks was caused by exposure to H(2)O(2), which was used as a positive stimulus; however, no effect was observed after exposure of cells to high-frequency EMFs. Overall, no evidence was found that a 1-h exposure to GSM-217 Hz induced a HSP70-mediated stress response or primary DNA damage in HTR-8/SVneo cells. Nevertheless, further investigations on trophoblast cell responses after exposure to GSM signals of different types and durations are needed.