The objective was a comprehensive investigation of the mechanisms and sites of resveratrol cardioprotection during and following ischemia-reperfusion (I-R) injury, and to determine whether direct preservation of cardiomyocytes is an important site of cardioprotection. We now provide the first definitive evidence that resveratrol specifically protects cardiomyocytes from I-R injury via a combination of suppression of superoxide levels and activation of potassium channels. This protection is apparent whether resveratrol is present for the full duration of the insult or only on recovery. In addition, resveratrol improved postischemic recovery of left ventricular contractile function, attenuated myocardial injury, and increased myocardial activation of the survival kinase Akt in the intact heart. Furthermore, resveratrol elicited direct concentration-dependent protective actions on the vasculature (vasorelaxation, superoxide suppression) and enhanced endothelium-dependent vasodilatation. Resveratrol thus targets a number of consequences of myocardial I-R, including release of reactive oxygen species, loss of recovery of contractile function, and impaired endothelium-dependent vasodilatation. Previous evidence indicates that resveratrol elicits potent preconditioning in the heart. Given that myocardial ischemic events are often unpredictable in humans, the findings that resveratrol protection is also evident when administered during and/or after the insult adds new dimensions to the clinical potential of resveratrol.