Myocardial ischemia followed by reperfusion promotes a complex series of inflammatory reactions as noted in a variety of large animal studies. With development of genetically altered mice, there is intense interest in developing murine models to study mechanisms operative in cardiovascular disease. We developed a mouse model to study coronary artery occlusion and reperfusion effects and the method required to perform these studies both acutely and chronically. In mice, we applied a left anterior descending coronary artery occlusion either permanently or for 30 or 60 min followed by reperfusion allowing flow through the previously occluded coronary artery bed. Reperfusion was documented visually as well as by using Doppler ultrasound and histopathological techniques. The area at risk (AAR) and infarct size (IS) were assessed by EVans blue dye and triphenyltetrazolium chloride staining with computerized planimetry using an image analysis software program. The infarct as percentage of AAR and IS as percentage of the left ventricle in 13 mice with permanent occlusion was 68.6 +/- 4.4 and 28.0 +/- 2.8%, respectively. Reperfusion after occlusions of 60 and 30 min resulted in a significant decrease in IS as a percentage of the AAR compared with permanent occlusion. Histological examination of the ischemic and reperfused myocardium shows infiltration of leukocytes into the ischemic region as well as contraction bands classically associated with reperfusion. This new model allows assessment of AAR, IS, cardiac function, and pathophysiology in the mouse. With the current technology to develop genetically altered mice for overexpression or targeted mutations of various genes, this model is used to understand the complex pathophysiology of ischemia and reperfusion injury.