We examined the effect of fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-2 on myocardial resistance to injury when administered after the onset of ischemia , in vivo and ex vivo, and the role of FGF-2 receptors and protein kinase C (PKC). FGF-2 was injected into the left ventricle of rats undergoing permanent surgical coronary occlusion leading to myocardial infarction (MI). After 24 h, FGF-2-treated hearts displayed significantly reduced injury, determined by histological staining and troponin T release, and improved developed pressure compared with untreated controls. An FGF-2 mutant with diminished affinity for the tyrosine kinase FGF-2 receptor 1 (FGFR1) was not cardioprotective. FGF-2-treated hearts retained improved function and decreased damage at 6 wk after MI. In the ex vivo heart, FGF-2 administration during reperfusion after 30-min ischemia improved functional recovery and increased relative levels of PKC subtypes α, ε, and ζ in the particulate fraction, in a chelerythrine-preventable mode; it also decreased loss of energy metabolites. We conclude that intramyocardial FGF-2 administration shortly after the onset of ischemia confers protection from acute and chronic cardiac dysfunction and damage; FGF-2 delivered during reperfusion protects from ischemia-reperfusion injury; and protection by FGF-2 requires intact binding to FGFR1 and is likely mediated by PKC.