The effect of flunarizine, a calcium entry-blocker, on the ischemic myocardial metabolism of the open-chest dog heart was examined and compared to that of diltiazem. During ischemia, initiated by ligating the left anterior descending coronary artery, the metabolism of the myocardium switched from aerobic to anaerobic; the levels of glycogen, fructose-1,6-diphosphate (FDP), adenosinetriphosphate and creatinephosphate decreased, and the levels of glucose-6-phosphate (G6P), fructose-6-phosphate (F6P), lactate, adenosine diphosphate and adenosine monophosphate increased during 3 min of ischemia. The calculated energy charge potential decreased, and the [( G6P] + [F6P]/[FDP] ratio and the lactate/pyruvate ratio were increased by ischemia. Flunarizine (0.3 or 1 mg/kg) or diltiazem (0.1 mg/kg) was injected i.v. 5 min before the start of ischemia. Pretreatment with either flunarizine or diltiazem reduced the decrease in the energy charge potential and the increase in the [( G6P] + [F6P]/[FDP] ratio during ischemia. Flunarizine (1 mg/kg) and diltiazem (0.1 mg/kg) reduced the accumulation of lactate due to ischemia, leading to a decrease in the lactate/pyruvate ratio. Flunarizine and diltiazem may lessen the influence of ischemia on the myocardial tissue.