During the past six years, great progress has been made in defining the key cellular and molecular signalling pathways that determine the fate of cardiac myocytes after ischaemia–reperfusion (IR) and consequently the severity of myocardial infarction. Among the complex network of kinases and transcription factors that mediate signals during IR is the STAT family of ‘signal transducers and activators of transcription’. During IR they are inducibly activated by Janus kinases and have the capability of transcriptionally regulating pro-survival and apoptotic gene expression. In this review we focus on recent progress made in elucidating the regulation and role of the STAT family of proteins during cardioprotective signalling events in myocardial preconditioning and during IR injury in cardiac myocyte cells and the myocardium. Moreover, we also highlight developments in understanding how this signalling pathway might be amenable to therapeutic intervention, permitting cardiac myocyte survival following IR.