A series of heat-resistant mutants selected from a murine tumor cell line, RIF-1, display a markedly increased and stable resistance to heat shock. The mutant cell lines were analyzed for differences that may explain their increased resistance. Membrane lipid analysis showed no change in cholesterol content but an increase in the proportion of saturated fatty acids in the phospholipid fraction. Two-dimensional gel analysis revealed a generally increased constitutive synthesis of several major heat shock proteins (HSP), including HSP90, 68, 60, and 28. In addition, a new protein in the 70-kilodalton region is present in the resistant lines. The new protein has a lower isoelectric point than the constitutive HSP70 does, is only weakly induced by heat shock, and is immunologically cross-reactive with other members of the HSP70 family. After heat shock, the mutants display increases in HSP similar to those seen in the wild-type cells and they develop further transient tolerance to heat. Analysis of these mutants may help in understanding the function of HSP, both in normal growth and after heat shock.