The Escherichia coli dnaJ gene product is required for bacteriophage lambda DNA replication at all temperatures. It is also essential for bacterial viability in at least some conditions, since mutations in it result in temperature-sensitive bacterial growth. We have previously cloned the dnaJ gene and shown that its product migrates as a Mr 37,000 polypeptide under denaturing conditions. Here we present the primary DNA sequence of the dnaJ gene. It codes for a processed basic protein (63 basic and 51 acidic amino acids) composed of 375 amino acids totaling Mr 40,973. The predicted NH2-terminal amino acid sequence, overall amino acid composition, and isoelectric point agree well with those of the purified protein. We present evidence that the rate of expression of the dnaJ protein is increased by heat shock under the control of the htpR (rpoH) gene product.