The consumption of red wine has been reported to impart a greater benefit in the prevention of coronary heart disease than the consumption of other alcoholic beverages. This beneficial effect is increasingly being attributed to certain antioxidants comprising the polyphenol fraction of red wine such as transresveratrol. In the present study, we investigated the potential cardioprotective effects of resveratrol in the face of ischemia reperfusion (I/R) injury. Isolated perfused working rat hearts after stabilization were perfused with Krebs-Henseleit Bicarbonate buffer (KHB) either in the presence or absence of transresveratrol (RVT) at a concentration of 10 microM for 15 min prior to subjecting them to 30 min of global ischemia followed by 2 h of reperfusion. Left ventricular functions were monitored at various timepoints throughout the reperfusion period to assess the extent of postischemic recovery in comparison with baseline values. Coronary perfusate samples were also collected to determine malonaldehyde (MDA) levels. The results demonstrated that RVT exhibited significant myocardial protection. This was evidenced by improved recovery of post-ischemic ventricular function including developed pressure and aortic flow as compared to the control group (KHB). Values for developed pressure in the RVT-treated group were significantly higher than those in the control group throughout the reperfusion period (71.09+/-4.88 mm Hg vs. 58.47+/-3.88 mm Hg, 68.87+/-5.07 mm Hg vs. 49.74+/-2.65 mm Hg and 51.67+/-3.95 mm Hg vs. 30.50+/-4.80 mm Hg at reperfusion timepoints R-15, R-60, and R-120, respectively). From R-30 onwards, aortic flow was markedly higher in the RVT treated group as compared with the control group, the differences being most significant at R-90 (32.45+/-2.19 ml/min vs. 19.83+/-1.62 ml/min) and R-120 (27.15+/-2.27 ml/min vs. 14.10+/-1.69 ml/min). In contrast to the KHB treated group, the RVT-treated group displayed significant reduction in MDA formation especially in the immediate early reperfusion period (63.71+/-8.19 pM/ml vs. 130.86+/-4.76 pM/ml, 63.84+/-15.62 pM/ml vs. 156.99+/-18.93 pM/ml, 71.29+/-2.80 pM/ml vs. 129.5+/-10.30 pM/ml and 56.25+/-5.79 pM/ml vs. 127.99+/-3.50 pM/ml at timepoints R-1, R-3, R-5, and R-7, respectively) indicating a reduction in I/R injury related oxidative stress. Infarct size was markedly reduced in the RVT group when compared with the control group (10.57+/-0.35% vs. 36.27+/-5.28%). In vitro studies revealed RVT to be a potent scavenger of peroxyl radicals suggestive of a probable mechanism involved in the protective ability of RVT. The results of this study indicate that resveratrol possesses cardioprotective effects which may be attributed to its peroxyl radical scavenging activity.