The transcripts of most eukaryotic genes contain intervening sequences and must be spliced to yield functional messenger RNA. We report that a brief severe heat shock blocks the processing of intervening sequences in Drosophila cells and that this block persists for at least 2 hr after cells are returned to normal temperatures. If a mild heat shock, which induces the synthesis of heat shock proteins, is administered prior to the severe heat shock, processing occurs under otherwise restrictive conditions. When heat shock protein synthesis is inhibited, this protection is not observed. We suggest that the disruption of intron processing contributes to heat-induced lethality and developmental abnormalities and that one function of the heat shock proteins is to protect processing from heat-induced disruption.