Langendorff perfused rat hearts were subjected to 30 min hypoxia followed by 20 min reoxygenation and the levels of the oxidised and reduced forms of glutathione measured. No change in the concentration of oxidised glutathione was detected in reoxygenated hearts when compared to normoxic controls. In contrast hearts exposed to oxidative stress in the form of H2O2 showed elevated levels of both oxidised glutathione (GSSG) and the glutathione-protein mixed disulphide. These results suggest that if oxidants do contribute to cell damage on reoxygenation of the hypoxic myocardium then their action is local and not through overwhelming of the cells antioxidant defences. © 1989 Informa UK Ltd All rights reserved: reproduction in whole or part not permitted.