It has been shown that geranylgeranylacetone (GGA) protects heart against ischemia/reperfusion injury via enhanced heat shock protein 72 (HSP72) expression in rats. In the present study, we investigated the protective effect of GGA on ischemia/reperfusion-induced endothelial dysfunction. Rats were given oral GGA (GGA group) or vehicle (CON group), and 24 hours later their hearts were removed and placed in the Langendorff apparatus for 30-minute low-flow ischemia followed by 30-minute reperfusion. GGA improved the postischemic functional recovery (P < 0.01), which was abolished by N-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME, NO synthase inhibitor). NO production during both ischemia and reperfusion were increased in the GGA group, and the acetylcholine (ACh)-induced (endothelium-dependent) vasodilation, measured as the percentage decrease in coronary perfusion pressure after ischemia/reperfusion (14.9 +/- 1.3%), was preserved as compared with that in the CON group (7.9 +/- 1.4%). LY294002, a phosphatidylinositol 3 (PI3) kinase inhibitor, abolished the protective effects of GGA on endothelial-dependent coronary vasodilation and NO production, whereas Y27632 (Rho kinase inhibitor) increased endothelium-dependent coronary vasodilation and NO production in CON group toward the level seen in GGA group. The amount of adrenomedullin in the coronary effluent at basal condition was lower in the GGA group than in the CON group (P < 0.05), and during both ischemia and reperfusion there was no difference in the amount of adrenomedullin between the GGA and CON groups. In addition, no difference was observed in the amount of endothelin-1 between the GGA and CON groups. These results indicate that GGA attenuates the ischemia/reperfusion-induced coronary endothelial dysfunction, which may contribute to its cardioprotective effect. The PI3 kinase and/or Rho kinase pathways appear to be involved in this process, whereas adrenomedullin and endothelin-1 are not necessary for the GGA-induced cardioprotection.