Heat shock proteins (HSPs), induced by a variety of stresses, are known to protect against cellular injury. Recent studies have demonstrated that prior β-adrenergic stimulation as well as thermal or culture stress induces HSP70 expression and protects against cerulein-induced pancreatitis. The goal of our current studies was to determine whether or not a non-thermal, chemical stressor like sodium arsenite also upregulates HSP70 expression in the pancreas and prevents secretagogue-induced trypsinogen and NF-κB activation. We examined the effects of sodium arsenite preadministration on the parameters of cerulein-induced pancreatitis in rats and then monitored the effects of preincubating pancreatic acini with sodium arsenite in vitro. Our results showed that sodium arsenite pretreatment induced HSP70 expression both in vitro and in vivo and significantly ameliorated the severity of cerulein-induced pancreatitis, as evidenced by the markedly reduced degree of hyperamylasemia, pancreatic edema, and acinar cell necrosis. Sodium arsenite pretreatment not only inhibited trypsinogen activation and the subcellular redistribution of cathepsin B, but also prevented NF-κB translocation to the nucleus by inhibiting the IκBα degradation both in vivo and in vitro. We also examined the effect of sodium arsenite pretreatment in a more severe model of pancreatitis induced by L-arginine and found a similarly protective effect. Based on our observations we conclude that, like thermal stress, chemical stressors such as sodium arsenite also induce HSP70 expression in the pancreas and protect against acute pancreatitis. Thus, non-thermal pharmacologically induced stress can help prevent or treat pancreatitis.