Protein kinase B (PKB, also named as Akt or RAC-protein kinase), that is activated by cellular stress such as heat shock and hyperosmotic treatment, was revealed to be activated by oxidative stress and by chemical stressors of CdCl2 and NaAsO2 by measuring the activity of the enzyme immunoprecipitated from the transfected COS-7 cells. Upon stress treatment, a 30-kDa phosphoprotein was co-immunoprecipitated with PKB from the cells metabolic labeled with [32P]orthophosphate. The phosphoprotein was identified as Hsp27, a small heat shock protein, by immunoblot analysis and co-immunoprecipitation. The association of Hsp27 was specific to PKB as the heat shock protein was not co-immunoprecipitated with other protein kinases such as protein kinase C and PKN. When the cells were treated with H2O2, PKB was activated gradually and the association of Hsp27 with PKB increased concurrently with the enhancement of PKB activity. In heat-shocked cells, activation of PKB and the association of Hsp27 were detected immediately after the treatment, and the association of the heat shock protein decreased while PKB kept stimulated activity when the cells were further incubated at 37 degrees C. These results suggest that Hsp27 is involved in the activation process of PKB in the signal transduction pathway of various forms of stress.