Exogenous hydrogen sulfide (H2S) protects against myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury but the mechanism of action is unclear. The present study investigated the effect of GYY4137, a slow-releasing H2S donor, on myocardial infarction given specifically at reperfusion and the signalling pathway involved. Thiobutabarbital-anesthetised rats were subjected to 30 min of left coronary artery occlusion and 2 h reperfusion. Infarct size was assessed by tetrazolium staining. In the first study, animals randomly received either no treatment or GYY4137 (26.6, 133 or 266 μmol kg−1) by intravenous injection 10 min before reperfusion. In a second series, involvement of PI3K and NO signalling were interrogated by concomitant administration of LY294002 or L-NAME respectively and the effects on the phosphorylation of Akt, eNOS, GSK-3β and ERK1/2 during early reperfusion were assessed by immunoblotting. GYY4137 266 μmol kg−1 significantly limited infarct size by 47% compared to control hearts (P < 0.01). In GYY4137-treated hearts, phosphorylation of Akt, eNOS and GSK-3β was increased 2.8, 2.2 and 2.2 fold respectively at early reperfusion. Co-administration of L-NAME and GYY4137 attenuated the cardioprotection afforded by GYY4137, associated with attenuated phosphorylation of eNOS. LY294002 totally abrogated the infarct-limiting effect of GYY4137 and inhibited Akt, eNOS and GSK-3β phosphorylation. These data are the first to demonstrate that GYY4137 protects the heart against lethal reperfusion injury through activation of PI3K/Akt signalling, with partial dependency on NO signalling and inhibition of GSK-3β during early reperfusion. H2S-based therapeutic approaches may have value as adjuncts to reperfusion in the treatment of acute myocardial infarction.