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Levosimendan is a novel calcium sensitizer that increases contraction force without change in intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i); milrinone is a phosphodiesterase inhibitor that exerts a positive inotropic effect by increasing [Ca2+]i. The effects of levosimendan and milrinone on oxygen consumption in the isolated guinea-pig heart were studied. Isolated guinea-pig hearts were paced (280 beats/min) and perfused according to the Langendorff technique. Levosimendan (0.01–1 μM) or milrinone (0.1–10 μM) were added cumulatively and changes from baseline for diastolic and systolic pressure (LVEDP and LVSP), contractility and relaxation (+dP/dt and −dP/dt), and coronary flow and oxygen consumption (CF and VO2) were calculated. Levosimendan was found to be 10 to 30 times more potent than milrinone as an inotropic agent. The effect on VO2 was markedly lower in levosimendan-perfused hearts than in milrinone-perfused hearts (P = 0.031 between the concentration-dependent effects of the two drugs). The maximum increase in VO2 was 10 ± 4% in the levosimendan group and 38 ± 15% in the milrinone group. The economy of the contraction was more advantageous in levosimendan-perfused hearts (P ≤0.005 vs. milrinone group on both VO2/+dP/dt and VO2/LVSP). It was concluded that levosimendan exerts a positive inotropic effect without disturbing the energy balance of the heart.