We had previously described that new RNA synthesis is required for expression of the heat shock protein HSP70. Here, we find that the HSP70 mRNA decreases its levels under stress conditions, heat shock (HS) or arsenite (As), and that its levels start to decline at the same time as maximal HSPs synthesis (including HSP70) occurs. This suggests that regulation of the hsp70 gene is mainly exerted at the transcriptional level. Accumulation of the HSP70 mRNA in cells stressed in presence of cycloheximide (CHX), indicates that (a) protein(s) non-existent before stress, possibly HSP70 itself (which is shown here to be relatively stable), is involved in negatively regulating hsp70 expression. Since degradation of the HSP70 mRNA is also shown to occur in cells heat-shocked under CHX, as seen from decay of its levels upon addition of actinomycin D (AMD), the protein(s) must repress hsp70 expression at the transcriptional level. Other conditions that affect normal protein synthesis, namely the translation inhibitor puromycin and the arginine-analog canavanine (shown here to be stress inducers in Tetrahymena pyriformis), also cause a delay in transcription-arrest of the HSP70 mRNA. Under severe stress conditions of HS (36 degrees C) or As (350 microM), the levels of HSP70 mRNA are higher than under mild stress conditions, however, no significant difference is seen in the pattern of HSP70 mRNA decay.