The role of prostaglandins in the antiarrhythmic effect of ischemic preconditioning (IP) was investigated in pentobarbital-anesthetized rats. In 5 unpreconditioned control rats, 30 min of occlusion of the left coronary artery elicited ventricular tachycardia (VT) and fibrillation (VF), with an average duration of VT and VF of 51±6 and 43±4 s, respectively. Frequent ventricular premature beats (VPBs; average 1,249±145) were also documented in these animals. Thirty minutes of reperfusion after the prolonged coronary occlusion in these animals caused more severe arrhythmias, including irreversible VF. In animals pretreated with IP (n=5), which was achieved by 3 cycles of 3 min of occlusion followed by 5 min of reperfusion, 30 min of coronary artery occlusion caused neither VT nor VF, but occasional VPBs (average 2±1, p<0.001 vs. control). Only occasional VPBs were observed during 30 min of reperfusion in this group. In animals pretreated with indomethacin (1 mg/kg i.v., n=5) followed by IP, prolonged ischemia and reperfusion led to frequent VPBs but no VT or VF. The average number of VPBs during ischemia and reperfusion in this indomethacin-treated group was less than that of the controls but greater than the IP-only group (p<0.01). In conclusion, prostaglandins appear to play a role in the protective effect of IP against VPBs during acute ischemia and reperfusion.