Myocarditis is an acute inflammatory disease of the myocardium for which there is currently no specific therapy. We investigated the therapeutic potential of C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) in acute experimental autoimmune myocarditis. One week after injection of porcine myosin into male Lewis rats, CNP (0.05 microg/kg/min) was continuously administered for 2 weeks. CNP infusion significantly increased maximum dP/dt, decreased left ventricular end-diastolic pressure, and improved fractional shortening compared with vehicle administration. In vehicle-treated hearts, severe necrosis and marked infiltration of CD68-positive inflammatory cells were observed. Myocardial and serum levels of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 were elevated in myocarditis. However, these changes were attenuated by CNP infusion. In addition, treatment with CNP significantly increased myocardial capillary density. Guanylyl cyclase-B, a receptor for CNP, was expressed in myocarditic heart, and cyclic guanosine monophosphate was elevated by CNP infusion. In conclusion, CNP infusion attenuated cardiac function in acute myocarditis through anti-inflammatory and angiogenic effects.