Skeletal muscle adapts rapidly following exercise by the increased production of heat-shock proteins (HSPs). The aim of this study was to examine the ability of muscle from adult and aged mice to produce HSPs following non-damaging exercise. Adult and aged B6XSJL mice were anaesthetized and their hind limbs were subjected to isometric contractions. At different time points, muscles were analysed for HSP production by Western and Northern blotting and by electrophoretic mobility-shift assay. HSP protein and mRNA levels in muscles from adult mice increased significantly following exercise. This was not evident in muscles of aged mice. In contrast, binding of the transcription factor heat-shock factor 1 (HSF1) was not grossly altered in muscles of aged mice compared with adult mice. The data suggest that the inability of muscles of aged mice to produce HSPs appears to be due to alterations during gene transcription.