Through its upregulation and/or translocation, heat shock protein 72 (HSP72) is involved in protection and repair of key proteins after physiological stress. In human skeletal muscle we investigated HSP72 protein after eccentric (ECC1) and concentric (CONC) exercise and repeated eccentric exercise (ECC2; 8 wk later) and whether it translocated from its normal cytosolic location to membranes/myofibrils. HSP72 protein increased ~2-fold 24 h after ECC1, with no apparent change after CONC or ECC2. In resting (nonstressed) human skeletal muscle the total pool of HSP72 protein was present almost exclusively in the cytosolic fraction, and after each exercise protocol the distribution of HSP72 protein remained unaltered. Overall, the amount of HSP72 protein in the cytosol increased 24 h after ECC1, matching the fold increase that was measured in total HSP72 protein. To better ascertain the capabilities and limitations of HSP72, using quantitative Western blotting we determined the HSP72 protein content to be 11.4 μmol/kg wet weight in resting human vastus lateralis muscle, which is comprised of Type I (slow-twitch) and Type II (fast-twitch) fibers. HSP72 protein content was similar in individual Type I or II fiber segments. After physiological stress, HSP72 content can increase and, although the functional consequences of increased amounts of HSP72 protein are poorly understood, it has been shown to bind to and protect protein pumps like SERCA and Na(+)-K(+)-ATPase. Given no translocation of cytosolic HSP72, these findings suggest eccentric contractions, unlike other forms of stress such as heat, do not trigger tight binding of HSP72 to its primary membrane-bound target proteins, in particular SERCA.