Sessile marine invertebrates undergo constant direct exposure to the surrounding environmental conditions, including local and global environmental fluctuations that may lead to fatal protein damage. Induction of heat shock proteins (Hsps) constitutes an important defense mechanism that protects these organisms from deleterious stress conditions. In a previous study, we reported the immunological detection of a 60-kDa Hsp (Hsp60) in the sea anemone Anemonia viridis (formerly called Anemonia sulcata) and studied its expression under a variety of stress conditions. In the present study, we show that the sponge Tetilla sp. from tidal habitats with a highly variable temperature regime is characterized by an increased level of Hsp60. Moreover, we show the expression of Hsp60 in various species among Porifera and Cnidaria, suggesting a general importance of this protein among marine invertebrates. We further cloned the hsp60 gene from A viridis, using a combination of conventional protein isolation methods and screening of a complementary deoxyribonucleic acid library by polymerase chain reaction. The cloned sequence (1764 bp) encodes for a protein of 62.8 kDa (588 amino acids). The 62.8-kDa protein, which contains an amino terminal extension that may serve as a mitochondrial targeting signal, shares a significant identity with mitochondrial Hsp60s from several animals but less identity with Hsp60s from either bacteria or plants.