The use of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory agents to reduce myocardial infarct size has demonstrated a dichotomy between ibuprofen, which reduces myocardial infarct size, and aspirin, which does not. A feline model of coronary ischemia using ligation of the anterior descending artery demonstrated that intravenous ibuprofen (2.5-20 mg/kg) given immediately and 2 h after ligation significantly decreased (by about 40%) myocardial infarct size. In contrast, aspirin did not diminish infarct size at any achieved dose; in fact, at some doses it tended to increase infarct size. In vitro studies with purified granulocytes demonstrated a similar dichotomy between ibuprofen and aspirin. Ibuprofen inhibits granulocyte aggregation, superoxide production, lysosomal enzyme release, and granulocytemediated endothelial cytotoxicity, while aspirin is without effect on these modalities. We propose that ibuprofen's beneficial effect in experimental myocardial ischemia is related to its ability to inhibit activated granulocytes and thus to diminish myocardial cell death in experimental myocardial infarction.