Heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) has been reported to be involved in the myocardial self-preservation system. To obtain the evidence that HSP70 plays a direct role in the protection from myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury, rat hearts were transfected with human HSP70 gene by intracoronary infusion of hemagglutinating virus of Japan (HVJ)-liposome containing human HSP70 gene. The control hearts were infused with HVJ-liposome without the HSP70 gene. The hearts from whole-body heat-stressed or nontreated rats were also examined. Western blot and immunohistochemical analysis showed that apparent overexpression of HSP70 occurred in the gene transfected hearts and that gene transfection might be more effective for HSP70 induction than heat stress. In Langendorff perfusion, better functional recovery as well as less creatine phosphokinase leakage after ischemia were obtained in the gene transfected hearts with HSP70 than in the control or nontreated hearts. Furthermore, the gene transfected hearts showed better functional recovery than the heat-stressed hearts. These results indicated that overexpressed HSP70 plays a protective role in myocardial injury, suggesting the possibility that gene transfection with HSP70 may become a novel method for myocardial protection through enforcing the self-preservation systems.