Reactive oxygen species (ROS) contribute significantly to myocardial ischaemia-reperfusion (I-R) injury. Recently the combination of the antioxidants vitamin E (VE) and alpha-lipoic acid (alpha-LA) has been reported to improve cardiac performance and reduce myocardial lipid peroxidation during in vitro I-R. The purpose of these experiments was to investigate the effects of VE and alpha-LA supplementation on cardiac performance, incidence of dysrhythmias and biochemical alterations during an in vivo myocardial I-R insult. Female Sprague-Dawley rats (4-months old) were assigned to one of the two dietary treatments: (1) control diet (CON) or (2) VE and alpha-LA supplementation (ANTIOXID). The CON diet was prepared to meet AIN-93M standards, which contains 75 IU VE kg(-1) diet. The ANTIOXID diet contained 10 000 IU VE kg(-1) diet and 1.65 g alpha-LA kg(-1) diet. After the 14-week feeding period, significant differences (P < 0.05) existed in mean myocardial VE levels between dietary groups. Animals in each experimental group were subjected to an in vivo I-R protocol which included 25 min of left anterior coronary artery occlusion followed by 10 min of reperfusion. No group differences (P > 0.05) existed in cardiac performance (e.g. peak arterial pressure or ventricular work) or the incidence of ventricular dysrhythmias during the I-R protocol. Following I-R, two markers of lipid peroxidation were lower (P < 0.05) in the ANTIOXID animals compared with CON. These data indicate that dietary supplementation of the antioxidants, VE and alpha-LA do not influence cardiac performance or the incidence of dysrhythmias but do decrease lipid peroxidation during in viva I-R in young adult rats.