The effect of lidocaine on ischemic myocardial acidosis was investigated in the dog heart, in which the left anterior descending coronary artery was occluded to reduce to about one-third (partial occlusion). Myocardial pH (MpH) was measured by means of a micro glass pH electrode. MpH before partial occlusion was 7.52 to 7.66. Partial occlusion decreased the left anterior descending coronary artery flow by 49 to 68%, MpH by 0.58 to 0.76 and myocardial contractile force by 26 to 43%, and increased ST segment (surface electrocardiogram) by 3.2 to 11.7 mV. Lidocaine (injected i.v. 30 min after partial occlusion) decreased heart rate, blood pressure and myocardial contractile force, and attenuated the decrease in MpH during ischemia. Lidocaine in doses of 2, 5 and 10 mg/kg restored the myocardial [H+], that had been increased by partial occlusion, by 23, 38 and 50%, respectively. Even in the paced heart, lidocaine (10 mg/kg) attenuated the myocardial acidosis, although the degree of attenuation was smaller (36%). Partial occlusion elevated the ST segment even in the presence of 5 or 10 mg/kg of lidocaine. In the nonischemic heart, however, lidocaine (2, 5 or 10 mg/kg) did not change in MpH. It is concluded that lidocaine attenuates the myocardial acidosis during ischemia, and the primarily important mechanism of pH attenuation is not a decrease in heart rate.