We investigated the effect of ischemia and reperfusion on the cardiac ryanodine receptor, which corresponds to the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ channel. Isolated working rat hearts were subjected to 10 to 30 minutes of global ischemia, followed or not by reperfusion. Ischemia produced significant reduction in the density of high-affinity 3H-ryanodine binding sites, determined either in whole-heart homogenate (Bmax 220±22, 203±12, and 228±14 fmol/mg protein after 10, 20, and 30 minutes of ischemia versus 298 ±18 fmol/mg protein in the control condition; P<.01) or in a fraction enriched in sarcoplasmic reticulum (Bmax, 1.08±0.15 pmol/mg protein after 20 minutes of ischemia versus 1.69±0.08 pmol/mg protein in the control condition; P<.01). The Kd (1.5±0.1 nmol/L) and the Ca2+ dependence of high-affinity 3H-ryanodine binding were not affected by ischemia. The density of low-affinity 3H-ryanodine binding sites was also reduced after 20 minutes of ischemia (14.0±2.3 versus 34.0±8.2 pmol/mg protein in the sarcoplasmic reticulum fraction, P<.05), without significant changes in Kd (4.7±1.2 versus 2.4±1.0 μmol/L). All these changes persisted after 20 minutes of reperfusion. Analysis of tissue fractions showed that 55% of the ryanodine binding sites were retained in the pellet of a low-speed centrifugation (“nuclear pellet”) and that the effects of ischemia concerned only the receptors released in the supernatant (“postnuclear supernatant”). In parallel experiments, we evaluated the effect of ryanodine on oxalate-supported Ca2+ uptake, which represents sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ uptake. As expected, we found that high concentrations of ryanodine stimulated Ca2+ uptake, owing to channel blockade. The response to 900 μmol/L ryanodine was slightly reduced in crude homogenate and significantly reduced in postnuclear supernatant obtained from ischemic hearts. In conclusion, the number of ryanodine receptors is reduced after ischemia; this effect concerns a subpopulation of the receptors, persists after reperfusion, and might contribute to modify sarcoplasmic reticulum function.