BMS-180448 has been found to retain the cardioprotective potency of its chemically related analog, cromakalim, although having significantly less peripheral vasodilating activity. The effect of the ATP-sensitive potassium channel opener, BMS-180448, on postischemic recovery of function (segmental shortening) was determined in open chested, anesthetized dogs instrumented with ultrasonic crystals. The plasma concentration of the effective and ineffective doses of BMS-180448 was compared to concentrations used in isolated rat hearts. BMS-180448 was given as a total dose of 4.2, 1.4 or 0.5 mg/kg over 30 min, starting 15 min before ischemia. Ischemia was initiated by a complete occlusion of the left anterior descending coronary artery for 15 min. Reperfusion was maintained for 3 hr and segmental shortening was measured. During ischemia, systolic bulging was observed in the ischemic region in drug- and vehicle-treated groups. Upon reperfusion, some contractile functional recovery was observed in vehicle-treated controls within minutes, but quickly decreased so that slight bulging was observed up to 3 hr into reperfusion. High dose BMS-180448 significantly improved the recovery of contractile function such that, by 3 hr after reperfusion, segmental shortening had recovered to 60% of base line. The 1.4-mg/kg dose also significantly improved reperfusion function, but 0.5 mg/kg of BMS-180448 was without effect. None of the doses of BMS-180448 significantly affected peripheral hemodynamic status or collateral blood flow. The plasma concentration of the 1.4-mg/kg dose was approximately 3 microM during ischemia. In isolated rat hearts, BMS-180448 significantly increased postischemic function at 3 microM and higher concentrations, which agrees with the dog data. BMS-180448 was protective in a dose-dependent manner in a canine model of stunned myocardium, and the concentrations necessary for protection are similar to that for rats.