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Propofol is considered to be an anesthetic agent with few or no negative inotropic effects. This study evaluated a possible direct depressant effect of propofol on sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ accumulation and cardiomyocytes.The effects of propofol on intracellular Ca2+ transients were evaluated in isolated rat cardiomyocytes using a microfluorometric technique with Indo-1. Sarcoplasmic reticulum function was also assessed by measuring the oxalate-stimulated Ca2+ uptake from homogenates of rat ventricles.The Ca2+ uptake capacity of the sarcoplasmic reticulum was decreased by propofol (10−4 M). Large concentrations of propofol decreased the rate of decrease of the intracellular Ca2+ transient, which resulted in an increase of diastolic Ca2+ when the diastolic interval was decreased. The increased diastolic Ca2+ also resulted in a decrease in Ca2+ transient. This effect appeared for lower doses (10−5 M) after a short diastolic pause rather than after a long (2- to 3-min) rest (appearing at 10−4 M).For doses more than 10−5 M, propofol induces a Ca2+ uptake capacity impairment of the sarcoplasmic reticulum. This is probably responsible for a slowing of the decrease of the Ca2+ transient, which in turn increases the diastolic Ca2+ for high heart rate. These diastolic modifications may participate in the slight negative inotropic effect of the drug.