Abstract It is well established that reperfusion of heart is the optimal method for salvaging ischemic myocardium, however, the success of this therapy could be limited by reperfusion injury, which is involved in inflammatory responses. High density lipoprotein (HDL) has an anti-inflammatory function and can protect the heart from ischemia–reperfusion (I/R) injury. In this study, we investigated the cardioprotective role of apolipoprotein A-I (ApoA-I), the major apolipoprotein of HDL, in I/R injury. Using rats subjected to myocardial I/R by ligation of left anterior descending coronary artery (LAD), we found that administration of ApoA-I (20 mg/kg, iv) before the onset of reperfusion of myocardial infarction can significantly reduce serum creatine kinase (CK) levels (62.1 ± 13.8%, p < 0.01) and heart TNF-α as well as IL-6 levels, compared with saline controls (40.4 ± 14.7%, 44 ± 9.8%, p < 0.01 respectively). Moreover, ApoA-I treatment suppresses the expression of ICAM-1 on endothelium, thus diminishing neutrophil adherence, transendothelial migration, and the subsequent myocyte injury. We concluded that ApoA-I could effectively protect rat heart from I/R injury.