Cardiac function is required for blood circulation and systemic oxygen delivery. However, the heart has intrinsic oxygen demands that must be met to maintain effective contractility. Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is a transcription factor that functions as a master regulator of oxygen homeostasis in all metazoan species. HIF-1 controls oxygen delivery, by regulating angiogenesis and vascular remodeling, and oxygen utilization, by regulating glucose metabolism and redox homeostasis. Analysis of animal models suggests that by activation of these homeostatic mechanisms, HIF-1 plays a critical protective role in the pathophysiology of ischemic heart disease and pressure-overload heart failure.