Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are chaperones that are known to have important roles in facilitating protein synthesis, protein assembly and cellular protection. While HSPs are known to be induced by damaging exercise, little is known about how HSPs actually mediate skeletal muscle adaption to exercise. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a heat shock pretreatment and the ensuing increase in HSP expression on early remodeling and signaling (2 and 48 h) events of the soleus (Sol) muscle following a bout of downhill running. Male Wistar rats (10 weeks old) were randomly assigned to control, eccentric exercise (EE; downhill running) or heat shock + eccentric exercise (HS; 41°C for 20 min, 48 h prior to exercise) groups. Markers of muscle damage, muscle regeneration and intracellular signaling were assessed. The phosphorylation (p) of HSP25, Akt, p70s6k, ERK1/2 and JNK proteins was also performed. As expected, following exercise the EE group had increased creatine kinase (CK; 2 h) and mononuclear cell infiltration (48 h) compared to controls. The EE group had an increase in p-HSP25, but there was no change in HSP72 expression, total protein concentration, or neonatal MHC content. Additionally, the EE group had increased p-p70s6k, p-ERK1/2, and p-JNK (2 h) compared to controls; however no changes in p-Akt were seen. In contrast, the HS group had reduced CK (2 h) and mononuclear cell infiltration (48 h) compared to EE. Moreover, the HS group had increased HSP72 content (2 and 48 h), total protein concentration (48 h), neonatal MHC content (2 and 48 h), p-HSP25 and p-p70s6k (2 h). Lastly, the HS group had reduced p-Akt (48 h) and p-ERK1/2 (2 h). These data suggest that heat shock pretreatment and/or the ensuing HSP72 response may protect against muscle damage, and enhance increases in total protein and neonatal MHC content following exercise. These changes appear to be independent of Akt and MAPK signaling pathways.