The effects of MCI-154, a cardiotonic agent with Ca++ sensitizing actions, on the ischemic contractile failure and myocardial acidosis were studied in the dog heart, in which the left anterior descending coronary artery (LAD) was partially occluded for 90 min, and compared with those of dobutamine, milrinone, pimobendan and isosorbide dinitrate (ISDN). Partial occlusion of LAD decreased segment shortening (measured by sonomicrometry) and myocardial pH (assessed by a micro glass pH electrode) in the ischemic myocardium. MCI-154, when administered i.v. 30 min after ischemia, improved the segment shortening in the ischemic zone, whereas dobutamine, milrinone and pimobendan failed to improve it when the drugs increased peak positive left ventricular dP/dt. Among the cardiotonic agents tested only MCI-154 attenuated myocardial acidosis during ischemia. The degree of the attenuation of acidosis by MCI-154 was equivalent with that by ISDN. However, the improvement of the ischemic zone segment shortening by MCI-154 was more pronounced than that by ISDN. These results suggest that in addition to the attenuation of myocardial acidosis the positive inotropic action of MCI-154, presumably increasing the responses of myofilaments to Ca++, may be possibly responsible for the improvement of regional contractile function in the ischemic myocardium. Thus, MCI-154 may be useful in the management of ischemic heart failure.