The present study tested the hypothesis that in response to physical stress the human brain has the capacity to release heat shock protein 72 (Hsp72) in vivo. Therefore, 6 humans (males) cycled for 180 minutes at 60% of their maximal oxygen uptake, and the cerebral Hsp72 response was determined on the basis of the internal jugular venous to arterial difference and global cerebral blood flow. At rest, there was a net balance of Hsp72 across the brain, but after 180 minutes of exercise, we were able to detect the release of Hsp72 from the brain (335 ± 182 ng/min). However, large individual differences were observed as 3 of the 6 subjects had a marked increase in the release of Hsp72, whereas exercise had little effect on the cerebral Hsp72 balance in the remaining 3 subjects. Given that cerebral blood flow was unchanged during exercise compared with values obtained at rest, it is unlikely that the cerebral Hsp72 release relates to necrosis of specific cells within the brain. These data demonstrate that the human brain is able to release Hsp72 in vivo in response to a physical stressor such as exercise. Further study is required to determine the biological significance of these observations.