Diabetes is associated with cardiac metabolic disturbances and increased heart failure risk. Plasma fructose levels are elevated in diabetic patients. A direct role for fructose involvement in diabetic heart pathology has not been investigated. The goals of this study were to clinically evaluate links between myocardial fructose and sorbitol (a polyol pathway fructose precursor) levels with evidence of cardiac dysfunction, and to experimentally assess the cardiomyocyte mechanisms involved in mediating the metabolic effects of elevated fructose. Fructose and sorbitol levels were increased in right atrial appendage tissues of type 2 diabetic patients (2.8- and 1.5-fold increase respectively). Elevated cardiac fructose levels were confirmed in type 2 diabetic rats. Diastolic dysfunction (increased E/e', echocardiography) was significantly correlated with cardiac sorbitol levels. Elevated myocardial mRNA expression of the fructose-specific transporter, Glut5 (43% increase), and the key fructose-metabolizing enzyme, Fructokinase-A (50% increase) was observed in type 2 diabetic rats (Zucker diabetic fatty rat). In neonatal rat ventricular myocytes, fructose increased glycolytic capacity and cytosolic lipid inclusions (28% increase in lipid droplets/cell). This study provides the first evidence that elevated myocardial fructose and sorbitol are associated with diastolic dysfunction in diabetic patients. Experimental evidence suggests that fructose promotes the formation of cardiomyocyte cytosolic lipid inclusions, and may contribute to lipotoxicity in the diabetic heart.