Members of heat shock proteins (Hsp70) family have been considered to respond to a large variety of stressful conditions. But it was suggested that, in pulmonary cells, Hsp response depends more closely on the type of stimulus. The lungs are critical organs potentially subjected to air pollution affecting respiratory function and, therefore, these organs are of particular interest with regard to the stress response. To investigate the stress dependence of Hsp70 response in lungs, we created transgenic mice where the firefly luciferase reporter gene is under the control of the murine hsp70-1 promoter and exposed them to different sublethal toxic conditions. For each condition, the level of transgene induction and pulmonary toxicity were assessed. We found that hsp70-1 promoter was stimulated by heat shock and cadmium but not by ozone, paraquat, and parathion, even if these chemicals induced respiratory distress and lung inflammation. Similar observations were made when expression of the endogenous hsp70-1 gene was analyzed, indicating that our transgenic model was accurately detecting hsp70-1 induction. Thereby, it appeared that hsp70-1 response is selective and depends on signaling pathways triggered by the toxicants rather than by their pathologic toxicity per se. Furthermore, because all the chemicals used in our study have been previously described to increase the level of oxidative stress, it indicates that there is no direct and simple correlation between hsp70-1 response and the level of oxidative stress, but more specific oxidative patterns should be involved in Hsp regulation.