The purpose of this study was to determine if exercise (Ex) protects hearts from arrhythmias induced by glutathione oxidation or ischemia-reperfusion (I/R). Female Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into two experimental groups: sedentary controls (Sed) or short-term Ex (10 days of treadmill running). Twenty-four hours after the last session, hearts were excised and exposed to either perfusion with the thiol oxidant diamide (200 μM) or global I/R. Ex significantly delayed the time to the onset of ventricular arrhythmia after irreversible diamide perfusion. During a shorter diamide perfusion protocol with washout, Ex significantly decreased the incidence of arrhythmia, as evidenced by a delayed time to the first observed arrhythmia, lower arrhythmia scores, and lower incidence of ventricular fibrillation. Ex hearts exposed to I/R (30-min ischemia/30-min reperfusion) also showed lower arrhythmia scores and incidence of ventricular fibrillation compared with Sed counterparts. Our finding that Ex protected intact hearts from thiol oxidation was corroborated in isolated ventricular myocytes. In myocytes from Ex animals, both the increase in H(2)O(2) fluorescence and incidence of cell death were delayed after diamide. Although there were no baseline differences in reduced-to-oxidized glutathione ratios (GSH/GSSG) between the Sed and Ex groups, GSH/GSSG was better preserved in Ex groups after diamide perfusion and I/R. Myocardial glutathione reductase activity was significantly enhanced after Ex, and this was preserved in the Ex group after diamide perfusion. Our results show that Ex protects the heart from arrhythmias after two different oxidative stressors and support the hypothesis that sustaining the GSH/GSSG pool stabilizes cardiac electrical function during conditions of oxidative stress.