Constitutive promoters are widely used to functionally characterise plant genes in transgenic plants, but their lack of specificity and poor control over protein expression can be a major disadvantage. On the other hand, promoters that provide precise regulation of temporal or spatial transgene expression facilitate such studies by targeting over-expression or knockdown of target genes to specific tissues and/or at particular developmental stages. Here, we used the uidA (beta-glucuronidase, GUS) reporter gene to demonstrate that the barley Hvhsp17 gene promoter can be induced by heat treatment of 38-40 °C for 1-2 h in transgenic wheat. The GUS enzyme was expressed only in those tissues directly exposed to heat and not in neighbouring leaf tissues. The induction of HSP::GUS was demonstrated in all organs and tissues tested, but expression in older tissues was lower. Generally, proximal root sections showed less GUS activity than in root tips. This heat-inducible promoter provides the ability to investigate the function of candidate genes by overexpression or by down-regulation of target gene expression (for example by RNAi) in selected tissues or developmental stages of a transgenic plant, limited only by the ability to apply a heat shock to the selected tissues. It also allows the investigation of genes that would be lethal or reduce fertility if expressed constitutively.