Myocardial ischemia-reperfusion (MI/R) represents a clinically relevant problem associated with thrombolysis, angioplasty, and coronary bypass surgery. MI/R injury is known to occur on restoration of coronary flow after a period of myocardial ischemia. Injury of myocardium caused by I/R includes cardiac contractile dysfunction, arrhythmias, as well as irreversible myocyte damage. Prevention of myocardial death in acute coronary syndromes is the immediate goal of therapy. The main factor concerned with the experimental generation of reperfusion damage is oxygen-derived free radicals. This MI/R injury has been shown to be salvaged by supplementing antioxidants to diseased hearts. Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), an active component of propolis extract, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and may function in cardiac protection against I/R-induced damage. To test this hypothesis, we randomly assigned 14 male Wistar rats for necrosis experiments. To produce myocardial necrosis, the left main coronary artery was occluded for 30 min, followed by 120 min of reperfusion in anesthetized rats. CAPE (50 muM kg(-1)) was given intravenously 10 min before occlusion and continued during ischemia by infusion pump. The volume of infarct and the risk zone was determined by planimentry of each tracing and multiplying by the slice thickness. Infarct was normalized by expressing it as a percentage of the area at risk. Compared to control group, CAPE administration statistically reduced the myocardial infarct size/area of risk zone (50 +/- 4% and 32 +/- 6%, respectively) and the myocardial infarct size (23 +/- 3% and 9 +/- 4%, respectively) in rat model of ischemia-reperfusion. In conclusion, this result shows that CAPE is important in reducing I/R-induced myocardial damage. (R) 2004 The Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists. All rights reserved.