Using an ex vivo rat heart model of ischemia-reperfusion (I-R) injury, we examined the effect of pharmacological preconditioning by chronic treatment with emodin (EMD)/oleanolic acid (OA) at low dose (25 μ mol/kg/day × 15) and/or ischemic preconditioning (IPC) (4 cycles of 5 min ischemia followed by 5 min of reperfusion) on myocardial I-R injury. The results indicated that EMD/OA pretreatment, IPC, or their combinations (EMD+IPC and OA+IPC) protected against myocardial I-R injury, as assessed by lactate dehydrogenase leakage and contractile force recovery. The cardioprotection was associated with a differential enhancement in mitochondrial antioxidant components. The combined EMD/OA and IPC pretreatment produced cardioprotective action in a semi-additive manner. This suggested that EMD/OA pretreatment and IPC protected against myocardial I-R injury via a similar but not identical biochemical mechanism.