Big MAP kinase 1 (BMK1/ERK5) plays a critical role in pre-natal development of the cardiovascular system and post-natal eccentric hypertrophy of the heart. Of the two isoforms upstream of MAPK-kinase 5 (MEK5) known to exist, only the longer MEK5alpha isoform potently activates BMK1. We generated cardiac-specific constitutively active form of the MEK5alpha (CA-MEK5alpha transgenic (Tg) mice), and observed a 3 to 4-fold increase in endogenous BMK1 activation and hyperphosphorylation of connexin 43 in the ventricles of the Tg compared to wild-type mice. The CA-MEK5alpha-Tg-mice demonstrated a profoundly accelerated recovery of left ventricular developed pressure after ischemia/reperfusion. We propose a novel role for BMK1 in protecting the heart from ischemia/reperfusion-induced cardiac injury.