This prospective randomized study investigated the effects of two different cardioplegia techniques on myocardial heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) mRNA levels. Patients undergoing elective coronary artery bypass grafting with cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) were divided into two equal groups. All patients received the same anaesthesia. Myocardial preservation was achieved by delivering intermittent antegrade isothermic blood cardioplegia in one group and antegrade plus continuous retrograde isothermic blood cardioplegia in the other. Biopsies for measurement of HSP70 mRNA levels were taken from the right atria before surgical manipulation of the heart, and later from the same place following CPB. HSP70 mRNA levels were evaluated using quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Crossing-point values for HSP70 and beta-actin were used to evaluate up-regulation. There was a significant increase in HSP70 mRNA levels in response to CPB in both groups, but no significant between-group difference in HSP70 up-regulation. Further investigation is required to evaluate the correlation between the level of HSP induction and the degree of myocardial protection in more heterogeneous groups of patients.