Our previous study has shown that human tissue kallikrein protected against ischemia/reperfusion-induced myocardial injury. In the present study, we investigated the protective role of local kallikrein gene delivery in ischemia/reperfusion-induced cardiomyocyte apoptosis and its signaling mechanisms in promoting cardiomyocyte survival. Adenovirus carrying the human tissue kallikrein gene was delivered locally into the heart using a catheter-based technique. Expression and localization of recombinant human kallikrein in rat myocardium after gene transfer were determined immunohistochemically. Kallikrein gene delivery markedly reduced reperfusion-induced cardiomyocyte apoptosis identified by both in situ nick end-labeling and DNA fragmentation. Delivery of the kallikrein gene increased phosphorylation of Src, Akt, glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3beta, and Bad(Ser-136) but reduced caspase-3 activation in rat myocardium after reperfusion. The protective effect of kallikrein on apoptosis and its signaling mediators was blocked by icatibant and dominant-negative Akt, indicating a kinin B2 receptor-Akt-mediated event. Similarly, kinin or transduction of kallikrein in cultured cardiomyocytes promoted cell viability and attenuated apoptosis induced by hypoxia/reoxygenation. The effect of kallikrein on cardiomyocyte survival was blocked by dominant-negative Akt and a constitutively active mutant of GSK-3beta, but it was facilitated by constitutively active Akt, catalytically inactive GSK-3beta, lithium, and caspase-3 inhibitor. Moreover, kallikrein promoted Bad.14-3-3 complex formation and inhibited Akt-GSK-3beta-dependent activation of caspase-3, whereas caspase-3 administration caused reduction of the Bad.14-3-3 complex, indicating an interaction between Akt-GSK-caspase-3 and Akt-Bad.14-3-3 signaling pathways. In conclusion, kallikrein/kinin protects against cardiomyocyte apoptosis in vivo and in vitro via Akt-Bad.14-3-3 and Akt-GSK-3beta-caspase-3 signaling pathways.