This study investigated the effect of pioglitazone, an insulin sensitizer, on metabolic abnormalities and oxidative stress as a cause of myocardial collagen accumulation in prediabetic rat hearts. Twenty male diabetic rats and 9 male nondiabetic age-matched rats were used. The diabetic rats were divided into two groups: diabetic treated and untreated. Pioglitazone was mixed in rat chow fed to the diabetic treated group (0.01%). Treatment duration was 5 weeks. At baseline (15 weeks) and 20 weeks of age, blood glucose, lipid, insulin, and plasma malondialdehyde-thiobarbituric acid (MDA) levels were measured and Doppler echocardiography was tracked. At 20 weeks of age, left ventricular collagen content was studied. Blood glucose, plasma insulin, and triglyceride levels in the diabetic treated group were significantly lower than those in the untreated diabetic group. Deceleration time (ms) of early diastolic inflow in the treated diabetic group decreased significantly compared with the untreated diabetic group (65 +/- 8 vs. 77 +/- 8, p < 0.01). Ratio of left ventricular weight to body weight (mg/g) and ratio of left ventricular collagen content to dry weight (mg/100 mg) were decreased in the treated diabetic group (1.5 +/- 0.1, 1.3 +/- 0.3) compared with the untreated diabetic group (1.7 +/- 0.2, p < 0.01; 1.7 +/- 0.3, p < 0.05). Plasma MDA concentration (nmol/ml) significantly decreased (2.9 +/- 0.3 at baseline to 2.3 +/- 0.3 at 20 weeks, p = 0.001) in the treated diabetic group, and was lower than that in the untreated diabetic group (3.2 +/- 0.7 at 20 weeks, p < 0.05). Pioglitazone improved glucose and lipid metabolism and reduced oxidative stress in the left ventricle, which decreased left ventricular collagen accumulation and improved left ventricular diastolic function of prediabetic rat hearts.