Sulfonylureas have, in the past, been reported to have adverse cardiovascular effects. Glimepiride is a new sulfonylurea. In spite of stimulating less insulin secretion, it has, depending on the species, equal or higher blood glucose decreasing activity and according to preliminary studies less cardiovascular activity than glibenclamide. Further studies were performed to confirm the lower cardiovascular activity of glimepiride. The IC50 for inhibition of rilmakalim-activated KATP channel currents in isolated ventricular myocytes was 31.6 nM for glimepiride and 6.8 nM for glibenclamide. In endotoxin shock-rats at a dose of 1 x 2 mg/kg i.v., glibenclamide induced a significantly higher blood pressure increase than glimepiride. At two i.v. doses of 20 mg/kg 4 min apart, in normal rats, glibenclamide produced signs of ischemia in the ECG in nearly all animals, glimepiride almost none, in diabetic rats, glibenclamide produced in all animals a lethal cardiogenic shock preceeded by serious ECG changes, glimepiride only in one fifth of the animals. In open-chest dogs, on intracoronary infusion of equieffective blood glucose-lowering doses, glibenclamide, gliclazide and glimepiride all reduced coronary blood flow, increased coronary resistance, depressed the mechanical activity of the heart, enhanced myocardial O2-extraction, reduced the serum potassium level and induced a moderate endocardial ST-segment elevation, but glimepiride to a significantly less extent than glibenclamide and gliclazide. The presented data confirm that glimepiride at equivalent blood glucose decreasing doses has less cardiovascular activity than conventional sulfonylureas.