The present study investigated the influence of hydrostatic pressure on the expression of cytokines and heat shock protein 70 in a chondrocyte-like cell line. Chondrocyte-like cells (HCS-2/8) were exposed to hydrostatic pressure by a special pressure apparatus. Total RNA for cytokines (interleukin-1 beta, basic fibroblast growth factor, insulin-like growth factor-I, and transforming growth factor-beta 1) and for heat shock protein 70 was extracted and was analyzed by a polymerase chain reaction method and Northern blotting. An assay for incorporation of [35S]sulfate was performed to assess proteoglycan synthesis. The expression of transforming growth factor-beta 1 mRNA was enhanced after exposure to 5-MPa of hydrostatic pressure and was reduced after 50 MPa, whereas the expression of heat shock protein 70 was enhanced following exposure to 50 MPa of hydrostatic pressure. The incorporation of [35S]sulfate into the cultured cells increased following exposure to 1-5 MPa of hydrostatic pressure and decreased following 10-50 MPa of pressure. These results suggest that hydrostatic pressure at physiologic levels enhances the expression of transforming growth factor-beta 1 mRNA in addition to increasing proteoglycan synthesis in chondrocytes and that excessively high hydrostatic pressure reduces the expression of transforming growth factor-beta 1 mRNA and increases the expression of heat shock protein 70 mRNA while decreasing proteoglycan synthesis.