The effects of heat injury induced by long exposures were evaluated in strawberry (Fragaria X ananassa 'Camarosa') plants in this study. Seedlings were grown in 14 X 12 cm pots using perlite for three weeks at 25/10degreesC day/night temperature, and watered daily by modified 1/3 Hoagland nutrient solution. Half of the plants were transferred to a growth chamber with a constant 25degreesC, 16/8 h (light/dark) photoperiod regime and 1200 lux light intensity for a week to acclimate the plants. Temperature was increased stepwise (5 K per 48 h) to 30, 35, 40degreesC and finally to 45degreesC. In addition to others, plants were transferred from the outside to the growth chamber, at each temperature step to impose a heat shock. Leaf relative water content (RWC, %), loss of turgidity, chlorophyll content (Spad value) and heat-stress tolerance (HTS; LT50) were measured in control and stressed plants. Total soluble proteins and total DNA were extracted from the leaves following the above treatments using standard procedures and total protein contents were determined using a Bradford assay. In general, effects of gradual heat stress (GHS) and shock heat stress (SHS) on the variables studied were mostly significant, except for chlorophyll content, while the effect of temperatures was significant for all the variables. Interaction between the heat stress type and temperature treatments was not significant for leaf RWC, loss of turgidity and chlorophyll content. Data also indicated that total protein and DNA contents were changed significantly by heat stress types (GHS and SHS) and/or temperature treatments. The plants exposed to GHS exhibited a significant increase in HST compared with the plants exposed to SHS (LT50 of 41.5degreesC and 39degreesC, respectively). Consequently, gradual heat stress increased HST in strawberry leaves. Increased HST may be associated with the accumulation of several heat-stable proteins in GHS plants.