Pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) plays a key role in aerobic energy metabolism and occupies a central crossroad between glycolysis and the tricarboxylic acid cycle. We generated inducible cardiac-specific PDH E1α knockout (CreERT2-PDHflox/flox) mice that demonstrated a high mortality rate. It was hypothesized that PDH modulating cardiac glucose metabolism is crucial for heart functions under normal physiological and/or stress conditions. The myocardial infarction was conducted by a ligation of the left anterior descending coronary arteries. Cardiac PDH E1α deficiency caused large myocardial infarcts size and macrophage infiltration in the hearts (P < .01 vs wild-type [WT]). Wheat germ agglutinin and Masson trichrome staining revealed significantly increased hypertrophy and fibrosis in PDH E1α-deficient hearts (P < .05 vs WT). Measurements of heart substrate metabolism in an ex vivo working heart perfusion system demonstrated a significant impairment of glucose oxidation in PDH E1α-deficient hearts during ischemia/reperfusion (P < .05 vs WT). Dichloroacetate, a PDH activator, increased glucose oxidation in WT hearts during ischemia/reperfusion and reduced myocardial infarct size in WT, but not in PDH E1α-deficient hearts. Immunoblotting results demonstrated that cardiac PDH E1α deficiency leads to an impaired ischemic AMP-activated protein kinase activation through Sestrin2-liver kinase B1 interaction which is responsible for an increased susceptibility of PDH E1α-deficient heart to ischemic insults. Thus, cardiac PDH E1α deficiency impairs ischemic AMP-activated protein kinase signaling and sensitizes hearts to the toxicological actions of ischemic stress.