Heat-shocked Xenopus embryos have an unusually complex heat shock response. The dominant heat shock protein (Hsp) has a relative molecular mass (M(r)) of 62,000 D (Hsp62). Affinity-purified IgGs against the glycolytic enzyme pyruvate kinase (PK; EC 22.214.171.124) specifically immunoprecipitated Hsp62 from extracts of embryos that had been heat-shocked at 37 degrees C for 30 min. Thus, Hsp62 and pyruvate kinase are immunologically cross-reacting. Electrophoretic separation of PK isoforms suggests that heat-shocked Xenopus embryos increase synthesis of an isoform of PK. Thermal denaturation studies suggest that this isoform has enhanced thermal stability. The identification of PK as an Hsp is discussed within the context of a physiological requirement for elevated levels of anaerobic glycolysis in heat-stressed cells as a vital component of the acquisition of thermotolerance.