A reduction in capillary dimensions has been demonstrated in postischaemic reperfusion in the heart. The aim of this study was to demonstrate that in ischaemia and ischaemia followed by reperfusion, the change in shape of the constituent endothelial cells can be inhibited by phalloidin which stabilises the actin microfilament system. Isolated, perfused rat hearts were made globally ischaemic both with and without reperfusion and in the presence or absence of phalloidin. Changes in ischaemic endothelial cell dimensions were quantified by measuring whole capillary and luminal cross-sectional areas, abluminal and luminal membrane lengths. The distribution of β-actin within the endothelial cells was determined by immunocytochemistry. In control hearts, β-actin is distributed throughout the endothelium with a slight increase towards the luminal membrane. In ischaemia, this was more marked and other patterns of actin distribution were also observed. After reperfusion, a ‘double ring’ of actin could be distinguished. With phalloidin, the actin staining was more regular and the ring pattern was not observed. Morphometry showed that phalloidin was more effective in reducing endothelial cell shape change after reperfusion than after ischaemia alone. We conclude that endothelial cell shape change on reperfusion can be modified by agents which target the contractile proteins.