The aim of this study was to determine whether the transition from insulin resistance to hyperglycemia in a model of type 2 diabetes leads to intrinsic changes in the myocardium that increase the sensitivity to ischemic injury. Hearts from 6-, 12-, and 24-wk-old lean (Control) and obese Zucker diabetic fatty (ZDF) rats were isolated, perfused, and subjected to 30 min of low-flow ischemia (LFI) and 60 min of reperfusion. At 6 wk, ZDF animals were insulin resistant but not hyperglycemic. By 12 wk, the ZDF group was hyperglycemic and became progressively worse by 24 wk. In spontaneously beating hearts rate-pressure product (RPP) was depressed in the ZDF groups compared with age-matched Controls, primarily due to lower heart rate. Pacing significantly increased RPP in all ZDF groups; however, this was accompanied by a significant decrease in left ventricular developed pressure. There was also greater contracture during LFI in the ZDF groups compared with the Control group; surprisingly, however, functional recovery upon reperfusion was significantly higher in the diabetic 12- and 24-wk ZDF groups compared with age-matched Control groups and the 6-wk ZDF group. This improvement in recovery in the ZDF diabetic groups was independent of substrate availability, severity of ischemia, and duration of diabetes. These data demonstrate that, although the development of type 2 diabetes leads to progressive contractile and metabolic abnormalities during normoxia and LFI, it was not associated with increased susceptibility to ischemic injury.