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The length-dependent activation of contraction is attenuated in the failing myocardium of adult male rats. This pathological change is not seen in adult female rats, possibly because of a protective effect of sex hormones. The present study evaluated length-dependent changes in isometric twitch, Ca2+ transient (CaT) and action potential (AP) in the right ventricular myocardium of impuberal healthy male and female rats (control) and in rats treated with a single injection of 50 mg/kg monocrotaline (MCT). Compared with sex-matched control rats, MCT-treated male and female rats exhibited increased right ventricular weight (134% and 142% of control, respectively), decreased left ventricular weight (72% and 79%), twitch attenuation (48.8 ± 2.7% and 57.5 ± 1.2%) and prolongation (125 ± 3% and 127 ± 2%), CaT attenuation (37.8 ± 0.4% and 39.1 ± 1.1%) and prolongation (114 ± 1% and 116 ± 1%) and AP prolongation at 90% repolarization (195 ± 2% and 203 ± 1%). The MCT-treated male rats exhibited a 50% lower integral magnitude and an approximately 25% larger time-to-peak ‘bump’ compared with control male rats. These parameters in MCT-treated female rats tended to show similar changes to those seen in the control female rats, with no significant difference between the two groups. In all groups, integral magnitude and time-to-peak ‘bump’ increased with length. In conclusion, the length-dependent activation of contraction was equally blunted in the failing right ventricular myocardium of impuberal male and female rats. This was related to changes in CaT and AP, which were similar between male and female rats. Therefore, puberty is necessary for manifestation of the protective effects of sex hormones on this remodelling.