Adhesion molecules are key molecules for inflammatory cardiovascular diseases and are known to be up-regulated by inflammatory cytokines. However, the role of adhesion molecules in the cytokine-induced myocardial dysfunction in vivo remains unclear. This role was examined in our novel canine model, in which chronic treatment of the heart with IL-1 beta-bound microspheres (MS), but not control MS, causes sustained myocardial dysfunction in vivo. The expression of P-selectin (mRNA and immunoreactivity) was more prominent in the IL-1 beta group than in the control group (treated with control MS alone) after MS injection. The extent of neutrophil infiltration and myocardial myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity were significantly increased in the IL-1 beta group (P < 0.01). Pre-treatment with SLeX-OS (a novel oligosaccharide analog of sialyl LewisX) or PB1.3 (a monoclonal antibody to P-selectin) prevented the myocardial dysfunction and significantly suppressed the neutrophil infiltration and the increase in myocardial MPO activity induced by IL-1 beta (P < 0.01 each). These results indicate that adhesion molecules play an important role in the pathogenesis of the cytokine-induced sustained myocardial dysfunction in dogs in vivo.