We studied the effects of dilazep, K-7259 (a novel derivative of dilazep) and d-propranolol on the change in cell shape and accumulation of nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA) induced by hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in isolated rat cardiac myocytes. Myocytes were incubated in a Krebs-Ringer bicarbonate buffer containing 2 mM diethyltriamine pentaacetic acid (DETAPAC) and 2mM FeSO4 for 10 min, and then treated with 2mM H2O2 for 50 min. Before the treatment with H2O2, the percentage of the number of rod-shaped cells to that of total cells was 66 +/- 2%, and decreased to 35 +/- 3%, 25 +/- 4% and 14 +/- 2%, after 30, 40 and 50 min of the H2O2 treatment, respectively. The levels of NEFA (lauric, myristic, palmitoleic, arachidonic, linoleic, palmitic, oleic and stearic acids) increased after the treatment with H2O2. In the absence of FeSO4 and DETAPAC, however, H2O2 did not have these effects, and therefore all the experiments with drugs were performed in the presence of Fe2SO4 and DETAPAC. K-7259 (30 microM) and d-propranolol (50 microM) attenuated both the changes in cell shape and accumulation of NEFA induced by H2O2, whereas dilazep (30 or 50 microM) did not. N-(2-mercaptopropionyl)glycine (2 mM), an .OH scavenger, inhibited the H2O2-induced changes completely. These results suggest that K-7259 and d-propranolol attenuate the H2O2-induced changes in cell shape and accumulation of NEFA, probably because of their .OH-scavenging effect.