Base excision repair (BER) of DNA damage in irradiated THP1 human leukemic cells was stimulated by pretreating the cells with exogenous recombinant Hsp70. The treatment of THP1 cells with recombinant Hsp70 in cell culture promoted repair by reducing the frequency of apurinic, apyrimidinic (AP) sites in DNA before and after 1.3 Gy of radiation. However, by 30 minutes after 2.6 Gy, accelerated repair of abasic sites supervened, which may contribute to the loss of the very-low-dose cell hypersensitivity seen in clonogenic studies of other laboratories. After irradiation with 2.6 Gy, the crucial initial glycosylase step was markedly incomplete when cells had been transfected 24 hours before with a small interfering RNA (siRNA) designed to inhibit synthesis of Hsp70. In confirmation, lysates from irradiated siRNA-treated cells after 2.6 Gy were deficient in uracil glycosylase activity (UDG). Transfection with a scrambled RNA of the same size did not interfere with the glycosylase step, ie, the prompt conversion of damaged pyrimidine sites to abasic sites as well as the subsequent repair of those sites. BER measured by reduction of DNA AP sites before and after low-dose radiation was also deficient in THP1 cells that had been transfected with the siRNA designed to inhibit synthesis of Hsp70. These results implicate BER and the participation of Hsp70 in the repair of DNA in human leukemic cells with the doses of ionizing radiation used in clinical regimens.