Haemonchus contortus infections in small ruminants are of major economic importance worldwide. Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are a family of molecular chaperones that play important roles in the process of invasion and survival of nematodes. Although HSP70 has been identified in several parasitic nematodes, little is known of its distribution and function in Haemonchus contortus. The aims of this study were to characterize HSP70 from Haemonchus contortus (designed as Hc-hsp70), express Hc-hsp70 and analyse the promoter activity in Caenorhabditis elegans. Bioinformatic analysis revealed that the open reading frame of the Hc-hsp70 cDNA encodes a 646-amino acid peptide, which is highly conserved in comparison to HSP70 in other nematodes. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that H. contortus is closely related to Caenorhabditis. The 5′-flanking region promoted green fluorescence protein (GFP) expression in the intestine in all larval stages and adult with 2 expression patterns in C. elegans. Expression of Hc-hsp70 mRNA transcripts in C. elegans increased following 2, 4, 6 h of heat shock and peaked at 4 h. However, its expression induced down-regulation of hsp-1 of C. elegans. These results suggest that the H. contortus hsp70 might have a similar function to that of C. elegans hsp-1.