AIMS Apelin, an endogenous cytokine, has a number of biological effects on the cardiovascular system, including a cardioprotective effect and calcium modulation. Because the intracellular calcium abnormality is considered to play an important role in cardiac dysfunction induced by ischaemia-reperfusion (I/R), the aim of this study was to examine the effects of apelin-13 on I/R-induced changes in cardiac performance and sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) function. METHODS AND RESULTS Isolated rat hearts were subjected to global ischaemia followed by reperfusion in the absence or presence of apelin-13 and inhibitors of some survival kinases. We found that depressed cardiac performance induced by I/R was attenuated by apelin-13. Furthermore, apelin-13 depressed oxidative stress during I/R. SR function depressed during I/R was partly reversed by apelin-13. SR oxidative modification levels were increased in I/R and reversed by apelin. Inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase and protein kinase C abolished the effects of apelin. Apelin-13 maintained the Ca(2+) transient against I/R in cardiomyocytes. CONCLUSION Apelin protects SR function and cardiac performance during I/R by attenuating oxidation of sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca(2+)-ATPase and RyR.