Yeast Hsp104 and its bacterial homolog, ClpB, are Clp/Hsp100 molecular chaperones and AAA+ ATPases. Hsp104 and ClpB collaborate with the Hsp70 and DnaK chaperone systems, respectively, to retrieve and reactivate stress-denatured proteins from aggregates. The action of Hsp104 and ClpB in promoting cell survival following heat stress is species-specific: Hsp104 cannot function in bacteria and ClpB cannot act in yeast. To determine the regions of Hsp104 and ClpB necessary for this specificity, we tested chimeras of Hsp104 and ClpB in vivo and in vitro. We show that the Hsp104 and ClpB middle domains dictate the species-specificity of Hsp104 and ClpB for cell survival at high temperature. In protein reactivation assays in vitro, chimeras containing the Hsp104 middle domain collaborate with Hsp70 and those with the ClpB middle domain function with DnaK. The region responsible for the specificity is within helix 2 and helix 3 of the middle domain. Additionally, several mutants containing amino acid substitutions in helix 2 of the ClpB middle domain are defective in protein disaggregation in collaboration with DnaK. In a bacterial two-hybrid assay, DnaK interacts with ClpB and with chimeras that have the ClpB middle domain, implying that species-specificity is due to an interaction between DnaK and the middle domain of ClpB. Our results suggest that the interaction between Hsp70/DnaK and helix 2 of the middle domain of Hsp104/ClpB determines the specificity required for protein disaggregation both in vivo and in vitro, as well as for cellular thermotolerance.