Myocardial ischaemia reperfusion injury is the leading cause of death in patients with cardiovascular disease. Interventions such as ischaemic pre and postconditioning protect against myocardial ischaemia reperfusion injury. Certain anaesthesia drugs and opioids can produce the same effects, which led to an initial flurry of excitement given the extensive use of these drugs in surgery. The underlying mechanisms have since been extensively studied in experimental animal models but attempts to translate these findings to clinical settings have resulted in contradictory results. There are a number of reasons for this such as dose response, the intensity of the ischaemic stimulus applied, the duration of ischaemia and lost or diminished cardioprotection in common co-morbidities such as diabetes and senescence. This review focuses on current knowledge regarding myocardial ischaemia reperfusion injury and cardioprotective interventions both in experimental animal studies and in clinical trials.