The full-length cDNA of heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) of humphead snapper Lutjanus sanguineus, designated as rsHSP90, was cloned by rapid amplification of complementary (c)DNA ends (RACE) techniques with the primers designed from the known expressed sequence tag (EST) sequence identified from the subtracted cDNA library of the head kidney of L. sanguineus. Sequence analysis showed that the full-length cDNA of rsHSP90 was 2745 bp, containing a 5′ terminal untranslated region (UTR) of 99 bp, a 3′ terminal UTR of 471 bp and an open reading frame (ORF) of 2175 bp encoding a polypeptide of 725 amino acids. On the basis of the deduced amino acid sequence, the theoretical molecular mass of rsHSP90 was calculated to be 83·18 kDa with an isoelectric point of 4·79. Moreover, five classical HSP90 family signatures were found in the amino acids sequence of rsHSP90 by PredictProtein. Basic local-alignment search-tool (BLAST) analysis revealed that the amino acids sequence of rsHSP90 had the highest similarity of 97% when compared with other HSP90s. Fluorescent real-time quantitative reverse-transcription (RT)-PCR was used to examine the expression pattern of rsHSP90 in eight kinds of tissues and organs of L. sanguineus challenged with Vibrio harveyi. There was a clear time-dependent expression pattern of rsHSP90 in head kidney, spleen and thymus after bacterial challenge and the expression of messenger (m)RNA reached the maximum level at the time points of 9, 15 and 24 h, respectively. The up-regulated mRNA expression of rsHSP90 in L. sanguineus after bacterial challenge indicated that rsHSP90 was inducible and might be involved in immune response.