Genetically engineered mice provide an excellent tool to study the role of a particular gene in biological systems and will be increasingly used as models to understand the signal transduction mechanisms involved in ischemic preconditioning (IP). However, the phenomenon of IP has not been well characterized in this species. We therefore attempted to examine whether IP could protect isolated mouse heart against global ischemia/reperfusion (GI/R) injury. Thirty adult mice hearts were perfused at constant pressure of 55 mmHg in Langendorff mode. Following 20 min equilibration, the hearts were randomized into three groups (n = 10/each): (1) Control Group; (2) IP2.5 Group: IP with two cycles of 2.5 min GI + 2.5 min R; (3) IP5 Group: IP with 5 min GI + 5 min R. All hearts were then subjected to 20 min of GI and 30 min R (37 degrees C). Ventricular developed force was measured by a force transducer attached to the apex. Leakage of CK and LDH was measured in coronary efflux. Infarct size was determined by tetrazolium staining. Following sustained GI/R, infarct size was significantly reduced in IP2.5 (13.8+/-2.3%), but not in IP5 (20.1+/-4.0%), when compared with non-preconditioned control (23.6+/-3.8%) hearts. CK & LDH release was also reduced in both IP2.5 and IP5 groups. No significant improvement in post-ischemic ventricular contractile function was observed in either IP groups. We conclude that IP with repetitive cycles of brief GI/R is able to reduce myocardial infarct size and intracellular enzyme leakage caused by a sustained GI/R in the isolated perfused mouse heart. This anti-necrosis cardioprotection induced by IP was not associated with the amelioration of post-ischemic ventricular dysfunction.