Pathological cardiac hypertrophy may be associated with reduced expression of glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) in contrast to exercise-induced cardiac hypertrophy, where GLUT4 levels are increased. However, mice with cardiac-specific deletion of GLUT4 (G4H-/-) have normal cardiac function in the unstressed state. This study tested the hypothesis that cardiac GLUT4 is required for myocardial adaptations to hemodynamic demands. G4H-/- and control littermates were subjected to either a pathological model of left ventricular pressure overload [transverse aortic constriction (TAC)] or a physiological model of endurance exercise (swim training). As predicted after TAC, G4H-/- mice developed significantly greater hypertrophy and more severe contractile dysfunction. Somewhat surprisingly, after exercise training, G4H-/- mice developed increased fibrosis and apoptosis that was associated with dephosphorylation of the prosurvival kinase Akt in concert with an increase in protein levels of the upstream phosphatase protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A). Exercise has been shown to decrease levels of ceramide; G4H-/- hearts failed to decrease myocardial ceramide in response to exercise. Furthermore, G4H-/- hearts have reduced levels of the transcriptional coactivator peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor- γ coactivator-1, lower carnitine palmitoyl-transferase activity, and reduced hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase activity. These basal changes may also contribute to the impaired ability of G4H-/- hearts to adapt to hemodynamic stresses. In conclusion, GLUT4 is required for the maintenance of cardiac structure and function in response to physiological or pathological processes that increase energy demands, in part through secondary changes in mitochondrial metabolism and cellular stress survival pathways such as Akt. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) is required for myocardial adaptations to exercise, and its absence accelerates heart dysfunction after pressure overload. The requirement for GLUT4 may extend beyond glucose uptake to include defects in mitochondrial metabolism and survival signaling pathways that develop in its absence. Therefore, GLUT4 is critical for responses to hemodynamic stresses.