OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) on myocardial expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1ÃŽ± (HIF-1ÃŽ±) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) following acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in rats.METHODS: Eighty male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into sham operation (n=20), AMI control (n=20), bFGF50 (intravenous bFGF 50 ÃŽÂ¼g/kg/d, n=20) and bFGF200 (intravenous bFGF 200 ÃŽÂ¼g/kg/d, n=20) groups. The left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was measured by echocardiography. The expression of HIF-1ÃŽ± mRNA and VEGF mRNA in the ischaemic tissues was analysed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.RESULTS: The LVEF in the bFGF50 and bFGF200 group was higher than in the AMI control group (p<0.05) seven and 14 days after the treatment. There was no difference in HIF-1ÃŽ± mRNA expression between the bFGF50 and AMI control group (p>0.05). However, the HIF-1ÃŽ± mRNA expression in the bFGF200 group was higher than in the AMI control group seven days (1.13 Ã‚± 0.18 vs 0.90 Ã‚± 0.14, p<0.01) and 14 days (1.31 Ã‚± 0.18 vs 0.93 Ã‚± 0.09, p<0.01) after the treatment. The VEGF mRNA expression in the bFGF200 group was also higher than in the AMI control group seven days (1.10 Ã‚± 0.17 vs 0.86 Ã‚± 0.14, p<0.01) and 14 days after the AMI (1.28 Ã‚± 0.19 vs 0.89 Ã‚± 0.14, p<0.01).CONCLUSIONS: bFGF therapy was associated with an improvement in left ventricular function and an increase in myocardial expression of HIF-1ÃŽ± mRNA and VEGF mRNA following AMI. bFGF may exert its cardioprotective effect through upregulating HIF-1ÃŽ± mRNA and VEGF mRNA in the ischaemic myocardium.