HP1 is a small nonhistone chromosomal protein of Drosophila melanogaster predominantly localized to the pericentric heterochromatin. We have shown previously that mutations in the HP1 coding sequences are associated with dominant suppression of heterochromatic position-effect variegation, and with recessive lethality. When fused to an Hsp70 heat shock gene promoter, the cDNA encoding HP1 supports the heat shock-inducible accumulation of HP1 protein in transgenic flies; this cDNA construct complements the dominant suppression of position-effect variegation associated with mutations in the HP1 gene. Here, we report experiments demonstrating that the heat shock-driven HP1 cDNA is capable of fully rescuing the recessive lethality associated with HP1 mutations in a heat shock-dependent fashion. If heat shock-induced HP1 expression is delayed for as long as 5 days, more than half of the mutant flies still survive until adulthood, consistent with a substantial maternal contribution to embryonic and larval viability. Elevating HP1 levels as late as 7-8 days of development is sufficient to enhance variegation three-fold, suggesting that the extent of heterochromatic position effect can be modified subsequent to the initial appearance of HP1 in the nuclei of syncytial blastoderm embryos.