It is apparent from the above discussion that acute stress, such as ischemia and reperfusion, hypoxia and reoxygenation, hyperthermia and oxidative stress, can rapidly potentiate the induction of genes for certain members of the HSP families and for antioxidants/antioxidant enzymes. Whether the stress response and induction of these genes have a direct role in myocardial protection is not known, but the induction of the expression of these genes are mostly associated with the preservation of myocardial cells from subsequent injury resulting from ischemia, hypoxia and reperfusion. The ubiquitous presence of some of these stress genes, such as for HSP 70 and catalase, in normal unstressed myocardium further suggests a role of these genes in many basic and essential biochemical and metabolic pathways. It is reasonable to speculate that the cells respond to the stress as a consequence of perturbations of one or more of the metabolic pathways by stimulating the induction of the stress genes of that particular pathway in which they participate. Thus, these genes are likely to be involved both in the protection and recovery/repair mechanisms. The precise mechanism by which myocardial cell recognizes and responds to a particular stress agent such as ischemia, hypoxia, hyperthermia or oxidative stress is not clear. While it is tempting to speculate that a generalized mechanism exists, applying to all different modes of stress response and gene induction, whether these agents induce the response via independent pathways or converge within a single point is entirely unclear. However, from the striking resemblance between the pattern of gene expression, especially with regard to HSP and antioxidant genes, it is reasonable to hypothesize the existence of a common and essential pathway of molecular signaling that leads to the expression of these stress genes (Fig. 2). The identification and characterization of the transcription factors that regulate the expression of the genes induced by these forms of stress should greatly facilitate our future understanding of the mechanism of stress response.