In Bacillus subtilis stress proteins are induced in response to different environmental conditions such as heat shock, salt stress, glucose and oxygen limitation or oxidative stress. These stress proteins have been previously grouped into general stress proteins (Gsps) and heat-specific stress proteins (Hsps). In this investigation the N-terminal sequences of 13 stress proteins of B. subtilis were determined. The quantification of the mRNA and the analysis of the protein synthesis pattern support the initial hypothesis that the chaperones DnaK and GroEL are Hsps in B. subtilis. In contrast, the recently described proteins GsiB, Ctc and RsbW belong to a class of Gsps that are induced by various stresses including heat shock. The main part of the Gsps described in this study failed to be induced in the sigB deletion mutant ML6 in response to heat shock. However, all the five Hsps were induced in this mutant in response to heat shock. These data indicate that SigB plays a crucial role in the induction of general stress genes, but is dispensable for the induction of Hsps.