Short ischemic episodes increase tolerance against subsequent severe ischemia in the heart. Nitropropionate (3-NP), an irreversible inhibitor of succinic dehydrogenase of the mitochondrial complex 11, was shown to induce protective effect against ischemic brain injury. The aim of this study was to investigate the possible protective effect of 3-NP on regional ischemia in preconditioned rat heart in vivo. Hearts were assigned into three groups: first, in order to induce ischemic preconditioning (IP) 5 min ischemia separated by 10 min reperfusion protocol was used; second, non-preconditioned group was used as control; and third, 3-NP (20 mg/kg, i.p.) was injected 3 h before the surgical procedure in order to induce chemical preconditioning. In all these groups, 30 min regional ischemia was followed by 60 min reperfusion. Infarct size, bax expression, number of ventricular ectopic beats (VEB), duration of ventricular tachycardia (VT) and ventricular fibrillation (VF) were significantly decreased in ischemic preconditioning and 3-NP pretreatment groups, whereas bcl-2 values were not markedly changed in these groups during occlusion period. These results showed that in the anesthetized rat heart 3-NP induced chemical preconditioning by decreasing infarct size, number of VEB, duration of VT and VF. Protective effect is associated with via decreased production of bax protein expression. (c) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.