The major rat heat-shock (stress) protein and its cognate were purified to electrophoretic homogeneity from livers of heat-shocked rats. Both proteins exhibited similar behavior on a variety of column chromatography matrices but were separable by preparative isoelectric focusing under nondenaturing conditions by virtue of a 0.2 pH unit difference in isoelectric point. Both purified proteins had similar physical properties, suggesting the possibility that they may have similar biological functions as well. Both proteins were homodimers under nondissociative conditions (Mr 150 000) with isoelectric points of 5.0 (cognate) and 5.2 (major stress protein). After denaturation, both proteins had an increase in isoelectric point of 0.6 pH unit, and the resulting polypeptide chains had apparent molecular weights of 73 000 (cognate) and 71 000 (major stress protein). Similarities in the electrophoretic properties of these two proteins and serum albumin, which also undergoes a large basic shift in isoelectric point due to loss of fatty acids and conformational changes accompanying denaturation, prompted us to search for lipids associated with the purified 71-kilodalton stress protein and its cognate. Thin-layer chromatography of chloroform/methanol extracts of these two proteins revealed nonesterified fatty acids bound to both proteins. Palmitic acid, stearic acid, and a small amount of myristic acid were identified by gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy. Both proteins contained approximately four molecules of fatty acid per dimer with palmitate and stearate present in a one to one molar ratio. Possible roles of the major stress protein and its cognate as fatty acid associated proteins in cellular responses to stress are discussed.