Background: Gender influences the cardiac response to prolonged increases in workload, with differences at structural, functional, and molecular levels. However, it is unknown if post-ischemic function or metabolism of female hypertrophied hearts differ from male hypertrophied hearts. Thus, we tested the hypothesis that gender influences post-ischemic function of pressure-overload hypertrophied hearts and determined if the effect of gender on post-ischemic outcome could be explained by differences in metabolism, especially the catabolic fate of glucose. Methods: Function and metabolism of isolated working hearts from sham-operated and aortic-constricted male and female Sprague-Dawley rats before and after 20 min of no-flow ischemia (N = 17 to 27 per group) were compared. Parallel series of hearts were perfused with Krebs-Henseleit solution containing 5.5 mM [5-3H/U-14C]-glucose, 1.2 mM [I-14C]-palmitate, 0.5 mM [U-14C]-lactate, and 100 mU/L insulin to measure glycolysis and glucose oxidation in one series and oxidation of palmitate and lactate in the second. Statistical analysis was performed using two-way analysis of variance. The sequential rejective Bonferroni procedure was used to correct for multiple comparisons and tests. Results: Female gender negatively influenced post-ischemic funct ion of non-hypertrophied hearts, but did not significantly influence function of hypertrophied hearts after ischemia such that mass-corrected hypertrophied heart function did not differ between genders. Before ischemia, glycolysis was accelerated in hypertrophied hearts, but to a greater extent in males, and did not differ between male and female non-hypertrophied hearts. Glycolysis fell in all groups after ischemia, except in non-hypertrophied female hearts, with the reduction in glycolysis after ischemia being greatest in males. Post-Ischemic glycolytic rates were, therefore, similarly accelerated in hypertrophied male and female hearts and higher in female than male non-hypertrophied hearts. Glucose oxidation was lower in female than male hearts and was unaffected by hypertrophy or ischemia. Consequently, non-oxidative catabolism of glucose after ischemia was lowest in male non-hypertrophied hearts and comparably elevated in hypertrophied hearts of both sexes. These differences in non-oxidative glucose catabolism were inversely related to post-ischemic functional recovery. Conclusion: Gender does not significantly influence post-ischemic function of hypertrophied hearts, even though female sex is detrimental to post-ischemic function in non-hypertrophied hearts. Differences in glucose catabolism may contribute to hypertrophy-induced and gender-related differences in post-ischemic function. © 2006 Saeedi et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.