Myocardial ischemic injury results from severe impairment of coronary blood supply and produces a spectrum of clinical syndromes. As a result of intensive investigation over decades, a detailed understanding is now available of the complexity of the response of the myocardium to an ischemic insult. Myocardial ischemia results in a characteristic pattern of metabolic and ultrastructural changes that lead to irreversible injury. Recent studies have explored the relationship of myocardial ischemic injury to the major modes of cell death, namely, oncosis and apoptosis. The evidence indicates that apoptotic and oncotic mechanisms can proceed together in ischemic myocytes with oncotic mechanisms and morphology dominating the end stage of irreversible injury. Myocardial infarcts evolve as a wavefront of necrosis, extending from subendocardium to subepicardium over a 3- to 4-hour period. A number of processes can profoundly influence the evolution of myocardial ischemic injury. Timely reperfusion produces major effects on ischemic myocardium, including a component of reperfusion injury and a greater amount of salvage of myocardium. Preconditioning by several short bouts of coronary occlusion and reperfusion can temporarily salvage significant amounts of myocardium and extend the window of myocardial viability. Ongoing research into the mechanisms involved in reperfusion and preconditioning is yielding new insights into basic myocardial pathobiology.