Synthesis of erythropoietin (Epo), the glycoprotein hormone that regulates red blood cell formation, is induced in response to low oxygen stress (hypoxia), and is regulated at both transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. We have previously described an Epo RNA binding protein (ERBP) which specifically binds to the 3'-untranslated region of Epo mRNA and is likely involved in the regulation of Epo mRNA stability. Since heat shock proteins (hsps) are induced in response to a variety of stresses, including hypoxia, we tested the possibility that hsps are involved in ERBP-Epo RNA complex formation. When human anti-hsp70 antibody was added to ERBP-containing human hepatoma cell (Hep3B) lysates, the ERBP-Epo RNA complex was inhibited in an electrophoretic mobility band shift assay. In addition, the anti-hsp70 antibody-inhibited complex could be rescued if lysates were pretreated with purified inducible hsp70, but not with bovine serum albumin (BSA). In vivo studies using quercetin to inhibit hsp70 induction support the notion that hsp70 is involved in ERBP-Epo RNA complex formation. Taken together, these findings suggest involvement of hsp70 in ERBP-Epo mRNA complex formation, and our model suggests a novel role for hsps in the regulation of EPO mRNA stability.