Heat shock proteins (HSP) are expressed at high levels in cancer and form a fostering environment that is essential for tumor development. Here, we review the recent data in this area, concentrating mainly on Hsp27, Hsp70, and Hsp90. The overriding role of HSPs in cancer is to stabilize the active functions of overexpressed and mutated cancer genes. Thus, elevated HSPs are required for many of the traits that underlie the morbidity of cancer, including increased growth, survival, and formation of secondary cancers. In addition, HSPs participate in the evolution of cancer treatment resistance. HSPs are also released from cancer cells and influence malignant properties by receptor-mediated signaling. Current data strongly support efforts to target HSPs in cancer treatment.