One of the important cellular defense mechanisms against stress is the induction of heat shock proteins (HSPs). We have recently demonstrated that a low frequency electromagnetic field is unable to induce the heat shock response (HSR). In the present study, we expanded our investigations to the induction of HSPs, particularly Hsp72, by ultrasound (US). Human promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells were exposed in suspension to US at 1, 3 and 10 MHz, as well as combinations of two of these frequencies. The ability of US to induce Hsp72 was tested for different frequencies, intensities and exposure times. In addition, the water bath temperature was varied from 30 to 36 degrees C. The Hsp72 protein expression was determined 4 and 24 h after treatment. We found that the amount of Hsp72 increased with increasing US frequency, reaching its highest level of about 1800%, induced by 10 MHz. After increasing the temperature of the water bath, the amount of Hsp72 in the treated cells was also increased, whereas no induction was observed at 30 degrees C. For all treatment conditions, ultrasound of 1 MHz was unable to significantly induce Hsp72. At 10 MHz, the exposure time was varied from 0 to 20 min. We found that the induction of Hsp72 took place after 5 min of exposure. For a fixed level of absorbed US energy, the continuous regime, as well as a pulsation of 1:2 (5 ms on and 5 ms off) induced the same Hsp72 level. Pulsation of 1:5 (2 ms on and 8 ms off) and 1:10 (1 ms on and 9 ms off) did not show any effect. A single sonication of 20 min, as well as a fractionated sonication of two 10 min exposures induced the same level of Hsp72, whereas four exposures of 5 min reduced the Hsp72 level. At the optimum exposure conditions (10 MHz, 10 min), the concentration of other HSPs was also determined. Hsp27 showed no effect but Hsp32, Hsp40 and Hsp72 were induced. Taken together, these results suggest a synergistic interaction between heat and US.