Heat shock proteins (Hsps) are a family of highly conserved cellular proteins present in all organisms, mediating a range of essential housekeeping and cytoprotective functions as well-known molecular chaperons and recently as regulators of the immune response. By subtractive suppression hybridization, three Hsp40 homologues have been identified in the flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus) embryonic cells (FEC) after treatment with UV-inactivated turbot (Scophthalmus maximus L.) rhabdovirus (SMRV), termed PoHsp40A4, PoHsp40B6 and PoHsp40B11, whose encoded proteins all possess the conserved DnaJ domain, a signature motif of the Hsp40 family. Based on different protein structure and phylogenetic analysis, they can be categorized into two subfamilies, PoHsp40A4 for Type I Hsp40, PoHsp40B6 and PoHsp40B11 for Type II Hsp40. Further expression analysis revealed two very different types of kinetics in response either to heat shock or to virus infection, with a marked induction for PoHsp40A4 and a weak one for both PoHsp40B6 and PoHsp40B11. A very distinct tissue distribution of mRNA was also revealed among the three genes, even between PoHsp40B6 and PoHsp40B11. This is the first report on the transcriptional induction of Hsp40 in virally stimulated fish cells, and the differential expressions might reflect their different roles in unstressed and stressed cells.