The resistance of stationary phase Salmonella typhimurium to heating at 55 degrees C was greater in cells grown in nutritionally rich than in minimal media, but in all media tested resistance was enhanced by exposing cells to a primary heat shock at 48 degrees C. Chloramphenicol reduced the acquisition of thermotolerance in all media but did not completely prevent it in any. The onset of thermotolerance was accompanied by increased synthesis of major heat shock proteins of molecular weight about 83, 72, 64 and 25 kDa. When cells were shifted from 48 degrees C to 37 degrees C, however, thermotolerance was rapidly lost with no corresponding decrease in the levels of these proteins. There is thus no direct relationship between thermotolerance and the cellular content of the major heat shock proteins. One minor protein of molecular weight about 34 kDa disappeared rapidly following a temperature down-shift. Its presence in the cell was thus correlated with the thermotolerant state.