Coronary heart disease (CHD) remains the greatest killer in the Western world, and although the death rate from CHD has been falling, the current increased prevalence of major risk factors including obesity and diabetes, suggests it is likely that CHD incidence will increase over the next 20 years. In conjunction with preventive strategies, major advances in the treatment of acute coronary syndromes and myocardial infarction have occurred over the past 20 years. In particular the ability to rapidly restore blood flow to the myocardium during heart attack, using interventional cardiologic or thrombolytic approaches has been a major step forward. Nevertheless, while ‘reperfusion’ is a major therapeutic aim, the process of ischemia followed by reperfusion is often followed by the activation of an injurious cascade. While the pathogenesis of ischemia-reperfusion is not completely understood, there is considerable evidence implicating reactive oxygen species (ROS) as an initial cause of the injury. ROS formed during oxidative stress can initiate lipid peroxidation, oxidize proteins to inactive states and cause DNA strand breaks, all potentially damaging to normal cellular function. ROS have been shown to be generated following routine clinical procedures such as coronary bypass surgery and thrombolysis, due to the unavoidable episode of ischemia-reperfusion. Furthermore, they have been associated with poor cardiac recovery post-ischemia, with recent studies supporting a role for them in infarction, necrosis, apoptosis, arrhythmogenesis and endothelial dysfunction following ischemia-reperfusion. In normal physiological condition, ROS production is usually homeostatically controlled by endogenous free radical scavengers such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, and the glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase systems. Accordingly, targeting the generation of ROS with various antioxidants has been shown to reduce injury following oxidative stress, and improve recovery from ischemia-reperfusion injury. This review summarises the role of myocardial antioxidant enzymes in ischemia-reperfusion injury, particularly the glutathione peroxidase (GPX) and the thioredoxin reductase (TxnRed) systems. GPX and TxnRed are selenocysteine dependent enzymes, and their activity is known to be dependent upon an adequate supply of dietary selenium. Moreover, various studies suggest that the supply of selenium as a cofactor also regulates gene expression of these selenoproteins. As such, dietary selenium supplementation may provide a safe and convenient method for increasing antioxidant protection in aged individuals, particularly those at risk of ischemic heart disease, or in those undergoing clinical procedures involving transient periods of myocardial hypoxia.