In addition to a prominent role in tissue energy conversion, fatty acids are involved in signal transduction and modulation of cellular protein localization and function. The latter is accomplished by acylation of specific cellular proteins. In the present study the amount of fatty acyl moieties covalently bound to cardiac proteins and the effect of myocardial ischemia and reperfusion on the degree and relative fatty acyl composition of cardiac proteins have been investigated in isolated rat hearts. In the normoxic heart about 0.32% of the cellular fatty acyl pool is covalently bound to proteins. Approximately 90% of these fatty acyl chains are thio-esterified, whereas a relatively minor part is attached to cardiac proteins through amide linkage. Thio-esterified fatty acyl chains are derived from palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acid. In contrast, amide linked protein acylation shows a preference for myristic acyl chains. Acute ischemia and reperfusion inflicted upon the isolated rat heart did enhance significantly the content of (unesterified) fatty acids, but did neither affect the degree of protein acylation nor the relative fatty acyl composition of acylated proteins in cardiac tissue.