To investigate the effects of environmental temperature and dietary Zn on egg production performance, egg quality and antioxidant status, as well as expression of heat-shock proteins (HSP) in tissues, of laying broiler breeders, we used a completely randomised design with a 2×3 factorial arrangement of treatments. The two environmental temperatures were normal (21±1°C, NT) and high (32±1°C, HT). The three dietary Zn sources were a Zn-unsupplemented basal diet (CON), and the basal diet supplemented with 110 mg Zn/kg as either the inorganic Zn sulphate (iZn) or the organic Zn proteinate with a moderate chelation strength (oZn). HT decreased (P<0·002) egg weight, laying rate, eggshell strength, thickness and weight, but increased (P≤0·05) rectal temperature, broken egg rate, misshapen egg rate, feed:egg ratio, Cu Zn superoxide dismutase activities in liver and pancreas, as well as metallothionein (MT) level in pancreas, and HSP70 mRNA levels in liver and pancreas of laying broiler breeders. Broiler breeders fed the oZn diet had higher (P<0·04) Zn content in the liver, as well as MT levels in the liver and pancreas, compared with those fed the CON diet. Under HT, broiler breeders fed the oZn diet had higher (P<0·05) Zn content in the pancreas compared with those fed the iZn and CON diets. The results from this study indicated that HT impaired egg production performance and eggshell quality possibly because of the disturbed redox balance and HSP homoeostasis, whereas the oZn is more available than the iZn for pancreatic Zn of heat-stressed laying broiler breeders.