Matrix Gla protein (MGP) expression is increased in cardiac hypertrophy, but the precise mechanisms regulating its expression are unknown. Here we characterized the effect of pressure overload and myocardial infarction in vivo as well as mechanical stretch and hypertrophic agonists in vitro on MGP expression. When angiotensin II (Ang II) was administered by osmotic minipumps, left ventricular (LV) MGP mRNA levels increased significantly from 6 h to 2 weeks, whereas intravenous arginine(8)-vasopressin increased LV MGP mRNA levels within 4 h. During post-infarction remodeling process, MGP mRNA levels were elevated at 24 h (1.3-fold, p<0.05) and the maximal increase was observed at 4 weeks (2.8-fold, p<0.01). Ang II increased MGP mRNA levels 20% (p<0.05) in neonatal rat cardiac myocytes and 40% (p<0.05) in cardiac fibroblasts, whereas endothelin-1 decreased MGP mRNA levels 30% (p<0.01) in myocytes and had no effect in fibroblasts. Cyclic mechanical stretch resulted in reduction of MGP gene expression in both cardiac myocytes and fibroblasts. These results demonstrate that MGP is rapidly upregulated in response to cardiac overload well before the development of LV hypertrophy and post-infarction remodeling process. Our results also suggest that Ang II may be involved in mediating load-induced activation of MGP expression.