Inhibition of translation can result in cytoprotection against heat shock. The mechanism of this protection has remained elusive so far. Here, the thermoprotective effects of the translation inhibitor cycloheximide (CHX) and puromycin were investigated, using as reporter firefly luciferase localized either in the nucleus or in the cytoplasm. A short preincubation of O23 cells with either translation inhibitor was found to attenuate the heat inactivation of a luciferase directed into the cytoplasm, whereas the heat sensitivity of a nuclear-targeted luciferase remained unaffected. After a long-term CHX pretreatment, both luciferases were more heat resistant. Both the cytoplasmic and the nuclear luciferase are protected against heat-induced inactivation in thermotolerant cells and in cells overexpressing heat shock protein (Hsp)70. CHX incubations further attenuated cytoplasmic luciferase inactivation in thermotolerant and in Hsp70 overexpressing cells, even when Hsp70-mediated protection was saturated. It is concluded that protection by translation inhibition is unlikely due to an increase in the pool of free Hsps normally engaged in translation and released from the nascent polypeptide chains on the ribosomes. Rather, a decrease in nascent chains and thermolabile polypeptides may account for the heat resistance promoted by inhibitors of translation.