The aim of this work was to compare in the rat the cardioprotective efficacy and the total plasma antioxidant activity of a standardised Ginkgo biloba L. extract (GB) as such (300 mg/kg/day) or complexed with phosphatidylcholine (GB-PC; 1:2 w/w), after a 5 days oral administration. At the end of the treatment, the total plasma antioxidant defence was determined by the TRAP and FRAP assays, and the hearts from all groups of animals subjected to moderate ischemia (flow reduction to 1 ml/min for 20 min) and reperfusion (15 ml/min for 30 min). The recovery of left ventricular developed pressure (LVDP) at the end of reperfusion was 35-40% of the preischemic values in both control and vehicle rats, 50.2% in the GB group and 72.5% in the GB-PC pre-treated animals. Creatine kinase (CK) outflow in the perfusate from the hearts of GB and GB-PC treated animals were restrained to a different extent vs. controls (by 71% GB-PC; by 22% GB); the rate of prostacyclin (6-keto-PGF1 alpha) release was far greater in GB-PC than in GB hearts. In parallel, the GB extract significantly increased the total antioxidant plasma capacity (by 24.5% TRAP; 27.9% FRAP) only when complexed with phospholipids. This indicates an increased bioavailability of phenolic antioxidants when suitably embedded within a lipophilic carrier. The results of this study demonstrate that complexation of Ginkgo biloba with phospholipids induces in the rat, even after a short treatment a greater resistance of the heart to ischemia/reperfusion damage in respect to the native extract, due to an increased plasma antioxidant activity.