In this histological study, we assessed the role of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in the healing process that takes place during the subacute phase of myocardial infarction in dogs. Seven days after occlusion of the left anterior descending coronary artery, adult mongrel dogs received 100 x 10(6) 4'-6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI)-labeled allogenic bone marrow-derived MSCs by the transendocardial (TE, n=6) and intracoronary (IC, n=4) routes; control dogs (n=6) received no infusion. The dogs were euthanized at 21 days after occlusion. Hearts were excised and sliced from apex to base into four transverse sections, which were divided into nine segments. Paraffin sections from each segment were stained with hematoxylin and eosin, trichrome, picrosirius red, and antibodies against several extracellular matrix components. Frozen sections were immunostained for host cardiac phenotypical markers and analyzed by epifluorescence and deconvolution fluorescence microscopy (DFM). We found less unresolved necrotic myocardium and more extracellular matrix deposition in MSC-treated dogs than in controls 2 weeks after cell delivery. By DFM, no DAPI+ MSC nuclei were observed within native cardiac cells. MSCs delivered during the subacute phase of acute myocardial infarction positively affect healing, apparently by mechanisms other than differentiation into mature native cardiac cells.