In this study, the effects of axotomy on heat shock protein 70 (hsp70) protein levels were analyzed by immunoblotting with a hsp70 antibody that recognized constitutive and inducible forms of the protein. The right facial nerve of postnatal day 4 (neonate) or 100 (adult) hamsters was transected at its exit from the stylomastoid foramen, with the left nerve serving as internal control. Postoperative survival times were 2, 6, 12, and 24 h, with 3 animals per time point. Tissue punches containing individual facial nuclear groups were collected and homogenized. Approximately 10 μg of total protein was loaded onto paired gels and electrophoretically separated. Immunoblots of one gel from each pair were prepared, with the other gel stained in 0.2% Coomassie blue and used for verification of equality of lane loading. The results indicate that hsp70 protein levels increase in the adult, but decrease in the neonate, after axotomy. It is concluded that a stress response to cellular damage is an initial component of the classically described “axon reaction” and that hsp70 plays a role in mediating motoneuron survival after peripheral nerve transection.