Statins have been shown to be cardioprotective; however, their interaction with endogenous cardioprotection by ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning is not known. In the present study, we examined if acute and chronic administration of the 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl CoA reductase inhibitor lovastatin affected the infarct size-limiting effect of ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning in rat hearts. Wistar rats were randomly assigned to the following three groups: 1) vehicle (1% methylcellulose per os for 12 days), 2) chronic lovastatin (15 mg.kg(-1).day(-1) per os for 12 days), and 3) acute lovastatin (1% methylcellulose per os for 12 days and 50 micromol/l lovastatin in the perfusate). Hearts isolated from the three groups were either subjected to a nonconditioning (aerobic perfusion followed by 30-min coronary occlusion and 120-min reperfusion, i.e., test ischemia-reperfusion), preconditioning (three intermittent periods of 5-min ischemia-reperfusion cycles before test ischemia-reperfusion), or postconditioning (six cycles of 10-s ischemia-reperfusion after test ischemia) perfusion protocol. Preconditioning and postconditioning significantly decreased infarct size in vehicle-treated hearts. However, preconditioning failed to decrease infarct size in acute lovastatin-treated hearts, but the effect of postconditioning remained unchanged. Chronic lovastatin treatment abolished postconditioning but not preconditioning; however, it decreased infarct size in the nonconditioned group. Myocardial levels of coenzyme Q9 were decreased in both acute and chronic lovastatin-treated rats. Western blot analysis revealed that both acute and chronic lovastatin treatment attenuated the phoshorylation of Akt; however, acute but not chronic lovastatin treatment increased the phosphorylation of p42 MAPK/ERK. We conclude that, although lovastatin may lead to cardioprotection, it interferes with the mechanisms of cardiac adaptation to ischemic stress.