Objective: This study was designed to assess whether the protective effects of Na +/H + exchange (NHE) inhibition, which have been largely demonstrated in normal hearts, are also manifest in a more surgically relevant model of hypertrophied myocardium subjected to cardioplegic arrest. Methods: Left ventricular hypertrophy was created in 3-week-old rats by coarctation of the ascending thoracic aorta with a hemoclip. Eight weeks later, hearts were excised, isovolumetrically perfused and subjected to 1 h of potassium cardioplegic arrest followed by 2 h of reperfusion. Hearts were allocated to one of the following four groups: sham-operated and aortic banding hearts without any treatment or treated with the NHE inhibitor cariporide (1 μmol/L) given as an additive to cardioplegia and over the first 15 min of reperfusion. Results: The major effect of cariporide was to reduce ischemic peak contacture and to improve post-ischemic diastolic function in both sham-operated and hypertrophied hearts. Total creatine kinase release over the first 45 min of reperfusion was significantly reduced in hypertrophied hearts treated with cariporide. The endothelium-dependent coronary vasodilation to 5-hydroxytryptamine was observed in all sham-operated hearts before cardiac arrest, however, it was significantly impaired following cardioplegic ischemia and reperfusion. Hypertrophied hearts demonstrated markedly impaired endothelium-dependent and -independent coronary vasodilations during both pre- and post-ischemic period that were not affected by the treatment with cariporide. Conclusions: The cardioprotective effects of the NHE inhibitor cariporide are also manifest in hypertrophied myocardium, which supports the potential usefulness of NHE inhibition in the setting of cardiac surgery. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.