Background. Endothelin-1 (ET-1) is implicated in left ventricular dysfunction after ischaemia-reperfusion. ETA and ETB receptors mediate diverse actions, but it is unknown whether these actions depend on ischaemia type and duration. We investigated the role of ETB receptors after four ischaemia-reperfusion protocols in isolated rat hearts. Methods. Left ventricular haemodynamic variables were measured in the Langendorff-perfused model after 40- and 20-minute regional or global ischaemia, followed by 30-minute reperfusion. Wild-type (n = 39) and ETB-deficient (n = 41) rats were compared. Infarct size was measured using fluorescent microspheres after regional ischaemia-reperfusion. Results. Left ventricular dysfunction was more prominent in ETB-deficient rats, particularly after regional ischaemia. Infarct size was smaller (P = 0.006) in wild-type (31.5 ± 4.4%) than ETB-deficient (45.0 ± 7.3%) rats after 40 minutes of regional ischaemia-reperfusion. Although the recovery of left ventricular function was poorer after 40-minute ischaemia-reperfusion, end-diastolic pressure in ETB-deficient rats was higher after 20 than after 40 minutes of regional ischaemia-reperfusion. Conclusion. ETB receptors exert cytoprotective effects in the rat heart, mainly after regional ischaemia-reperfusion. Longer periods of ischaemia suppress the recovery of left ventricular function after reperfusion, but the role of ETB receptors may be more important during the early phases.