Using 31P-NMR and haemodynamical measurements, this work assesses different aspects of myocardial preservation improvement during a global ischaemia, based on a simultaneous and correlated study of high-energy phosphorylated compounds, intracellular pH and left ventricular function. Isolated perfused working rat hearts were subjected to 2 or 3 h of hypothermic ischaemia followed by 30 or 45 min of reperfusion. A study of the influence of pH and buffer used in cardioplegic solutions has demonstrated a better preservation of high-energy phosphates and an improved functional recovery when using a pH 7.0, glutamate - containing solution. Protection provided by cardioplegia can be enhanced by the appropriate use of a fluorocarbon-oxygenated cardioplegic reperfusate. The use of nifedipine, a calcium antagonist, in the cardioplegic solutions, does not provide any additional protection under hypothermic conditions. © 1985 Informa UK Ltd All rights reserved: reproduction in whole or part not permitted.