Obesity-related disorders are associated with the development of ischemic heart disease. Adiponectin is a circulating adipose-derived cytokine that is downregulated in obese individuals and after myocardial infarction. Here, we examine the role of adiponectin in myocardial remodeling in response to acute injury. Ischemia-reperfusion in adiponectin-deficient (APN-KO) mice resulted in increased myocardial infarct size, myocardial apoptosis and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha expression compared with wild-type mice. Administration of adiponectin diminished infarct size, apoptosis and TNF-alpha production in both APN-KO and wild-type mice. In cultured cardiac cells, adiponectin inhibited apoptosis and TNF-alpha production. Dominant negative AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) reversed the inhibitory effects of adiponectin on apoptosis but had no effect on the suppressive effect of adiponectin on TNF-alpha production. Adiponectin induced cyclooxygenase (COX)-2-dependent synthesis of prostaglandin E(2) in cardiac cells, and COX-2 inhibition reversed the inhibitory effects of adiponectin on TNF-alpha production and infarct size. These data suggest that adiponectin protects the heart from ischemia-reperfusion injury through both AMPK- and COX-2-dependent mechanisms.