The effect of isoproterenol (1 microM) on the force of isometric contractions (0.1-1.0 Hz, 30 +/- 1 degree C, 1.8 mM Ca2+) of papillary muscles of the right ventricle of the heart of the ground squirrel during summer activity (n = 5) and hibernation (activity between hibernation bouts, n = 4; torpor, n = 4; and arousal, n = 5) has been studied. It was shown that isoproterenol increases the force of contraction (positive inotropic effect) in active summer ground squirrels by 20 +/- 3 and 61 +/- 7% at stimulation frequencies of 0.4 and 1.0 Hz, respectively. The isoproterenol-induced increase in the force of contraction in animals during hibernation is brief (within 3 min after the onset of treatment) and this parameter decreases by 30-50% of the control level (negative inotropic effect) at stimulation frequencies from 0.3 and 0.8 Hz. The positive inotropic effect of isoproterenol in active summer ground squirrels is associated with a decrease in the relative value of the potentiating effect of the pause (qualitative indicator of calcium content in the sarcoplasmic reticulum), and the negative inotropic effect, with its increase. It was found that the inotropic effect of isoproterenol in all groups of animals examined (irrespective of its direction) is accompanied by an acceleration of the velocity of the contraction-relaxation cycle. The dependence of the effect of isoproterenol in the heart of hibernating animals on seasonal changes in the calcium homeostasis and the activity of the sympathetic nervous system is discussed.