To isolate genes that are regulated by a photoperiod that promotes flowering in Pharbitis nil, a cDNA library representing mRNA of induced cotyledons was screened by differential hybridization. The DNA sequence of one cDNA clone isolated by this approach, clone 12L, showed homology to plant small heat-shock protein (hsp) genes. P. nil genomic clones hybridizing to clone 12L were isolated, and the DNA sequences of two P. nil small hsp (shsp) genes, shsp-1 and shsp-2, were determined. The derived amino acid sequences of shsp-1 and shsp-2 showed maximum homology to the 17.9-kD soybean hsp, a member of the class II cytoplasmic hsps found in plants. A study of the expression of shsp-1 and shsp-2 genes by RNase protection assay indicated that shsp-1 is induced by photoperiod, by light treatment of dark-grown P. nil seedlings, and by heat shock, and that shsp-2 is induced only by heat shock. Analysis of the sequences of the nontranscribed region indicates that both genes contain multiple heat-shock elements. The shsp-1 gene, in addition, contains sequences homologous to the GT-1-binding site, which may play a role in its light-regulated expression.