Hypernatremia exerts multiple cellular effects, many of which could influence the outcome of an ischemic event. To further evaluate these effects of hypernatremia, isolated neonatal cardiomyocytes were chronically incubated with medium containing either normal (142 mM) or elevated sodium (167 mM) and then transferred to medium containing deoxyglucose and the electron transport chain inhibitor amobarbital. Chronic hypernatremia diminished the degree of calcium accumulation and reactive oxygen species generation during the period of metabolic inhibition. The improvement in calcium homeostasis was traced in part to the downregulation of the CaV3.1 T-type calcium channel, as deficiency in the CaV3.1 subtype using short hairpin RNA or treatment with an inhibitor of the CaV3.1 variant of the T-type calcium channel (i.e., diphenylhydantoin) attenuated energy deficiency-mediated calcium accumulation and cell death. Although hyperosmotically stressed cells (exposed to 50 mM mannitol) had no effect on T-type calcium channel activity, they were also resistant to death during metabolic inhibition. Both hyperosmotic stress and hypernatremia activated Akt, suggesting that they initiate the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt cytoprotective pathway, which protects the cell against calcium overload and oxidative stress. Thus hypernatremia appears to protect the cell against metabolic inhibition by promoting the downregulation of the T-type calcium channel and stimulating cytoprotective protein kinase pathways. Copyright © 2010 the American Physiological Society.