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We tested the hypothesis that glycogen levels at the beginning of ischemia affect lactate production during ischemia and postischemic contractile function.Isolated working rat hearts were perfused at physiological workload with bicarbonate buffer containing glucose (10 mmol/L). Hearts were subjected to four different preconditioning protocols, and cardiac function was assessed on reperfusion. Ischemic preconditioning was induced by either one cycle of 5 min ischemia followed by 5, 10, or 20 min of reperfusion (PC5/5, PC5/10, PC5/20), or three cycles of 5 min ischemia followed by 5 min of reperfusion (PC3 × 5/5). All hearts were subjected to 15 min total, global ischemia, followed by 30 min of reperfusion. We measured lactate release, timed the return of aortic flow, compared postischemic to preischemic power, and determined tissue metabolites at selected time points.Compared with preischemic function, cardiac power during reperfusion improved in groups PC5/10 and PC5/20, but was not different from control in groups PC5/5 and PC3 × 5/5. There was no correlation between preischemic glycogen levels and recovery of function during reperfusion. There was also no correlation between glycogen breakdown (or resynthesis) and recovery of function. Lactate accumulation during ischemia was lowest in group PC5/20 and highest in the group with three cycles of preconditioning (PC3 × 5/5). Lactate release during reperfusion was significantly higher in the groups with low recovery of power than in the groups with high recovery of power.In glucose-perfused rat heart recovery of function is independent from both pre- and postischemic myocardial glycogen content over a wide range of glycogen levels. The ability to utilize lactate during reperfusion is an indicator for postischemic return of contractile function.