Neuregulin-1 (NRG-1), an endogenously produced polypeptide, is the ligand of cardiomyocyte ErbB receptors, with cardiovascular protective effects. In the present study, we explored whether the cardioprotective effect of NRG-1 against I/R injury is mediated by inhibiting myocardial endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. In vitro, NRG-1 directly inhibited the upregulation of ER stress markers such as glucose-regulated protein 78, CCAAT/enhancer binding protein homologous protein and cleaved caspase-12 induced by the ER stress inducers tunicamycin or dithiothreitol in both neonatal and adult ventricular myocytes. Attenuating ErbB signals by an ErbB inhibitor AG1478 or ErbB4 knockdown and preincubation with phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitors all reversed the effect of NRG-1 inhibiting ER stress in cultured neonatal rat cardiomyocytes. Concurrently, cardiomyocyte ER stress and apoptosis induced by hypoxia-reoxygenation were decreased by NRG-1 treatment in vitro. Furthermore, in an in vivo rat model of myocardium ischemia/reperfusion (I/R), intravenous NRG-1 administration significantly decreased ER stress and myocardial infarct size induced by I/R. NRG-1 could protect the heart against I/R injury by inhibiting myocardial ER stress, which might be mediated by the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt signaling pathway.