The 70-kDa heat shock protein (hsp70) sequences define one of the most conserved proteins known to date. The hsp70 genes from Deinococcus proteolyticus and Thermomicrobium roseum, which were chosen as representatives of two of the most deeply branching divisions in the 16S rRNA trees, were cloned and sequenced. hsp70 from both these species as well as Thermus aquaticus contained a large insert in the N-terminal quadrant, which has been observed before as a unique characteristic of gram-negative eubacteria and eukaryotes and is not found in any gram-positive bacteria or archaebacteria. Phylogenetic analysis of hsp70 sequences shows that all of the gram-negative eubacterial species examined to date (which includes members from the genera Deinococcus and Thermus, green nonsulfur bacteria, cyanobacteria, chlamydiae, spirochetes, and alpha-, beta-, and gamma-subdivisions of proteobacteria) form a monophyletic group (excluding eukaryotic homologs which are derived from this group via endosybitic means) strongly supported by the bootstrap scores. A closer affinity of the Deinococcus and Thermus species to the cyanobacteria than to the other available gram-negative sequences is also observed in the present work. In the hsp7O trees, D. proteolyticus and T. aquaticus were found to be the most deeply branching species within the gram-negative eubacteria. The hsp70 homologs from gram-positive bacteria branched separately from gram-negative bacteria and exhibited a closer relationship to and shared sequence signatures with the archaebacteria. A polyphyletic branching of archaebacteria within gram-positive bacteria is strongly favored by different phylogenetic methods. These observations differ from the rRNA-based phylogenies where both gram-negative and gram-positive species are indicated to be polyphyletic. While it remains unclear whether parts of the genome may have variant evolutionary histories, these results call into question the general validity of the currently favored three-domain dogma.