The aim of present work was to study the cardioprotective effect of the potassium channel opener levcromakalim at a low concentration (0.3 microM) which does not depress heart rate and left ventricular developed pressure. For the determination of the protection against 10 or 20 min duration of hypoxia (95% N2 + 5% CO2) in isovolumically-perfused Langendorff heart preparations of guinea-pigs biochemical parameters (ATP, phosphocreatine, lactate and glycogen) were used. Under normoxic (95% O2 + 5% CO2) conditions 0.3 microM levcromakalim has not changed myocardial high energy phosphates, glycogen, lactate and the hypoxia induced decrease in ATP and phosphocreatine. The 10 min hypoxia induced increase in lactate and decrease in glycogen have--slightly but not significantly--been moderated and when the duration of hypoxic perfusion has lasted 20 min, this protection became significant. It is supposed that the preservation of glycogen stores induced by levcromakalim may contribute to the decrease of intracellular acidosis evoked by hypoxia. Therefore--in such experimental condition-, this mechanism may constitute the biochemical basis of cardioprotective effect of levcromokalim.