Brief ischemic periods lead to myocardial dysfunction without myocardial infarction. It has been shown that expression of inducible HSP70 in hearts of transgenic mice leads to decreased infarct size, but it remains unclear if HSP70 can also protect against myocardial dysfunction after brief ischemia. To investigate this question, we developed a mouse model in which regional myocardial function can be measured before and after a temporary ischemic event in vivo. In addition, myocardial function was determined after brief episodes of global ischemia in an isolated Langendorff heart. HSP70-positive mice and transgene negative littermates underwent 8 min of regional myocardial ischemia created by occlusion of the left descending coronary artery, followed by 60 min of reperfusion. This procedure did not result in a myocardial infarction. Regional epicardial strain was used as a sensitive indicator for changes in myocardial function after cardiac ischemia. Maximum principal strain was significantly greater in HSP70-positive mice with 88+/-6% of preischemic values vs. 58+/-6% in transgene-negative mice (P < 0.05). Similarly, in isolated Langendorff perfused hearts of HSP70-positive and transgene-negative littermates exposed to 10 min of global ischemia and 90 min of reperfusion, HSP70 transgenic hearts showed a better-preserved ventricular peak systolic pressure. Thus, we conclude that expression of HSP70 protects against postischemic myocardial dysfunction as shown by better preserved myocardial function.