Obesity is a known risk factor for induction of myocardial infarction, but, paradoxically, may also confer a protective effect against subsequent remodeling leading to heart failure. In this study, we investigated the effect of leptin, the product of the obese (ob) gene, on cardiomyocyte apoptosis, a well-characterized component of cardiac remodeling after myocardial infarction. Exposing H9c2 cells to H2O2 decreased cell viability, and this was attenuated by pretreating cells with leptin for 1 h, but not 24 h. Leptin also attenuated the ability of H2O2 to increase phosphatidylserine exposure and annexin V binding. Further investigation of underlying mechanisms of leptin's protective effect demonstrated that the H2O2-induced decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential (Ψ) leading to cytochrome c release was attenuated by leptin pretreatment, and this was associated with reduced translocation of the pro-apoptotic Bax protein to the mitochondrial membrane. Finally, leptin prevented H2O2-induced increases in caspase-3 cleavage and activity, although again 24 h leptin pretreatment did not confer significant protection. In summary, we have demonstrated that acute leptin pretreatment mediates anti-apoptotic effects in H9c2 rat cardiomyocytes, which may be of significance in clarifying the direct impact of leptin on the heart.