Bursts in reactive oxygen species production are important mediators of contractile dysfunction during ischemia-reperfusion injury. Cellular mechanisms that mediate reactive oxygen species-induced changes in cardiac myocyte function have not been fully characterized. In the present study, H2O2 (50 μM) decreased contractility of adult rat ventricular myocytes. H2O2 caused a concentration- and time-dependent activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2), p38, and c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases in adult rat ventricular myocytes. H2O2 (50 μM) caused transient activation of ERK1/2 and p38 MAP kinase that was detected as early as 5 min, was maximal at 20 min (9.6 ± 1.2- and 9.0 ± 1.6-fold, respectively, vs. control), and returned to baseline at 60 min. JNK activation occurred more slowly (1.6 ± 0.2-fold vs. control at 60 min) but was sustained at 3.5 h. The protein kinase C inhibitor chelerythrine completely blocked JNK activation and reduced ERK1/2 and p38 activation. The tyrosine kinase inhibitors genistein and PP-2 blocked JNK, but not ERK1/2 and p38, activation. H2O2-induced Na+/H+ exchanger phosphorylation was blocked by the MAP kinase kinase inhibitor U-0126 (5 μM). These results demonstrate that H2O2-induced activation of MAP kinases may contribute to cardiac myocyte dysfunction during ischemia-reperfusion.