The presence of general transcription factors and other coactivators at the Drosophila hsp70 gene promoter in vivo has been examined by polytene chromosome immunofluorescence and chromatin immunoprecipitation at endogenous heat-shock loci or at a hsp70 promoter-containing transgene. These studies indicate that the hsp70 promoter is already occupied by TATA-binding protein (TBP) and several TBP-associated factors (TAFs), TFIIB, TFIIF (RAP30), TFIIH (XPB), TBP-free/TAF-containg complex (GCN5 and TRRAP), and the Mediator complex subunit 13 before heat shock. After heat shock, there is a significant recruitment of the heat-shock transcription factor, RNA polymerase II, XPD, GCN5, TRRAP, or Mediator complex 13 to the hsp70 promoter. Surprisingly, upon heat shock, there is a marked diminution in the occupancy of TBP, six different TAFs, TFIIB, and TFIIF, whereas there is no change in the occupancy of these factors at ecdysone-induced loci under the same conditions. Hence, these findings reveal a distinct mechanism of transcriptional induction at the hsp70 promoters, and further indicate that the apparent promoter occupancy of the general transcriptional factors does not necessarily reflect the transcriptional state of a gene.