[en] The 27-kDa heat shock protein (Hsp27) is constitutively expressed in motor and sensory neurons of the brainstem. Hsp27 is also rapidly induced in the nervous system following oxidative and cellular metabolic stress. In this study, we examined the distribution of Hsp27 in the rat medulla oblongata by means of immunohistochemistry after the vagus nerve was cut or crushed. After vagal injury, rats were allowed to survive for 6, 12, 24 h, 2, 4, 7, 10, 14, 30, or 90 days. Vagus nerve lesions resulted in a time-dependent up-regulation of Hsp27 in vagal motor and nodose ganglion sensory neurons that expressed Hsp27 constitutively and de novo induction in neurons that did not express Hsp27 constitutively. In the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve (DMV) and nucleus ambiguus, the levels of Hsp27 in motor neurons were elevated within 24 h of injury and persisted for up to 90 days. Vagal afferents to the nucleus of the tractus solitarius (NTS) and area postrema showed increases in Hsp27 levels within 4 days that were still present 90 days postinjury. In addition, increases in Hsp27 staining of axons in the NTS and DMV suggest that vagus nerve injury resulted in sprouting of afferent axons and spread into areas of the dorsal vagal complex not normally innervated by the vagus. Our observations are consistent with the possibility that Hsp27 plays a role in long-term survival of distinct subpopulations of injured vagal motor and sensory neurons.