In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, stress resistance can be regulated by dauer formation (daf) genes. In the present study, regulation of heavy metal lead (Pb) toxicity by the 90-kDa heat shock proteins (Hsp90; daf-21) was investigated in both wild-type C. elegans and daf-21/Hsp90 mutants by focusing on the effects of varied temperatures below (15°C) or above (25 and 30°C) the presumptive optimum growth temperature (20°C). More acute toxicity of Pb, indicated by the 24-h median lethal concentrations (LC50), was observed in wild-type adults than in the daf-21 mutant adults at 15, 20 and 25°C; however, the daf-21 mutant adults showed more sensitivity at 30°C. Enhanced Pb sensitivity (e.g., decrease LC50) in both types of C. elegans was observed with both increased and decreased temperatures when compared to that at 20°C. Additional examined endpoints included time course of toxicity at LC50s, pharyngeal pumping, reproduction, life span, and Hsp90 expression. Collective results showed that temperatures both above and below 20°C exacerbated Pb toxicity, and that the protein level of daf-21/Hsp90 was one of the most sensitive indicators of Pb toxicity in wild-type C. elegans, while pharyngeal pumping was more Pb sensitive in daf-21 mutants. Therefore, the expression of daf-21/Hsp90 has apparent utility for the prediction and assessment of Pb-induced toxicity in nematodes. Further, the stress responses related to Hsp90 expression in C. elegans may have considerable potential as sensitive biomarkers for the monitoring of environmental Pb contamination.