Yeast strains in which the Ras-cyclic AMP (cAMP) pathway is constitutively active are sensitive to heat shock, whereas mutants in which the activity of this pathway is low are hyperresistant to heat shock. To determine the molecular basis for these differences, we examined the transcriptional induction of heat shock genes in various yeast strains. Activation of heat shock genes was attenuated in the strains in which the Ras-cAMP pathway is constitutively active. In contrast, in a strain deficient in cAMP production, several heat shock genes were induced by removal of cAMP from the medium. These results indicate that the Ras-cAMP pathway affects the induction of heat shock genes. In all of the mutants, heat shock transcription factor expression and activity were identical to those in wild-type cells. The response to heat shock in Ha-ras-transformed rat fibroblasts was also studied. While no induction of Hsp68 was observed in Ha-ras-transformed cells, proper regulation of heat shock transcription factor was found. Therefore, in mammals, as in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the Ras pathway controls the transcription of heat shock genes via a mechanism not involving the heat shock transcription factor.