Plants respond to environmental stimuli, such as heat shock, by re-programming cellular activity through differential gene expression, mainly controlled at the transcription level. The current study refers to two sunflower small heat shock protein (sHSP) genes arranged in tandem in head-to-head orientation and linked by a 3809 bp region. These genes exhibit only slight structural differences in the coding portion. They code for cytosolic class I sHSPs and are named HaHSP17.6a and HaHSP17.6b according to the molecular weight of the putative proteins. The genomic organization of these genes is consistent with the idea that many HSP genes originate from duplication events; in this case, probably an inversion and duplication occurred. The HaHSP17.6a and HaHSP17.6b genes are characterized by different expression levels under various heat stress conditions; moreover, their expression is differently induced by various elicitors. The differential regulation observed for HaHSP17.6a and HaHSP17.6b genes differs from previous observations on duplicated sHSP genes in plants.