Since the dawn of transgenic technology some 40 years ago, biologists have sought ways to manipulate, at their discretion, the expression of particular genes of interest in living organisms. The infrared laser-evoked gene operator (IR-LEGO) is a recently developed system for inducing gene expression in living organisms in a targeted fashion. It exploits the highly efficient capacity of an infrared laser for heating cells, to provide a high level of gene expression driven by heat-inducible promoters. By irradiating living specimens with a laser under a microscope, heat shock responses can be induced in individual cells, thereby inducing a particular gene, under the control of a heat shock promoter, in specifically targeted cells. In this review we first summarize previous attempts to drive transgene expression in organisms by using heat shock promoters, and then introduce the basic principle of the IR-LEGO system, and its applications.