Myocardial glycogen metabolism was studied in live guinea pigs by 13C NMR at 20.19 MHz. Open-chest surgery was used to expose the heart, which was then positioned within a solenoidal radio frequency coil for NMR measurements. The time course of myocardial glycogen synthesis during 1-h infusions of 0.5 g of D-[1-13C]glucose (and insulin) into the jugular vein was investigated. The possible turnover of the 13C-labeled glycogen was also studied in vivo by following the labeled glucose infusion with a similar infusion of unlabeled glucose. The degree of 13C enrichment of the C-1 glycogen carbons during these infusions was measured in heart extracts by 1H NMR at 360 MHz. High-quality proton-decoupled 13C NMR spectra of the labeled C-1 carbons of myocardial glycogen in vivo were obtained in 1 min of data accumulation. This time resolution allowed measurement of the time course of glycogenolysis of the 13C-labeled glycogen during anoxia by 13C NMR in vivo. With the solenoidal coil used for 13C NMR, the spin-lattice relaxation time of the labeled C-1 carbons of myocardial glycogen could be measured in vivo. For a comparison, spin-lattice relaxation times of heart glycogen were measured in vitro at 90.55 MHz. Natural abundance 13C NMR studies of the quantitative hydrolysis of extracted heart glycogen in vitro at 90.55 MHz showed that virtually all the carbons in heart glycogen contribute to the 13C NMR signals. The same result was obtained in 13C NMR studies of glycogen hydrolysis in excised guinea pig heart.