Although much is known about plant responses to heat shock (HS), how plants sense high temperature and the primary HS signal transduction pathway leading to HS-regulated gene expression are still poorly understood. To identify primary transcription factors that mediate HS-regulated gene expression and their target genes, RNA sequencing was performed to detect genes whose expression is rapidly altered by HS in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). The results showed several genes were induced after only 5 min of HS treatment, suggesting that HS signaling occurs very rapidly. Analysis of the cis-elements in the promoters of genes upregulated by 10 min of HS treatment identified HEAT SHOCK FACTOR A1s (HSFA1s) and circadian clock proteins REVEILLE4 (RVE4) and RVE8 as essential transcription factors that independently mediate early HS-induced gene expression. Using hsfa1a/b/d/e and rve4/8 mutants, we identified subsets of HSFA1s- or RVE4/8-dependent early HS-induced genes and showed RVE4/8 regulate plant thermotolerance partially by regulating the expression of downstream transcription factors ETHYLENE RESPONSIVE FACTOR53 (ERF53) and ERF54, specifically around noon. These findings reveal a potential transcriptional regulatory hierarchy governing the first wave of HS-induced gene expression. They also provided important insight into the mechanism by which the circadian clock gates thermotolerance and prepares plants for exposure to high temperatures during the day.