It was recently reported that imatinib causes cell death in neonatal rat ventricular cardiomyocytes (NRVCM) by triggering endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and collapsed mitochondrial membrane potential. Retroviral gene transfer of an imatinib-resistant mutant c-Abl into NRVCM appeared to alleviate imatinib-induced cell death and it was concluded that the observed imatinib-induced cytotoxicity is mediated through direct interactions of imatinib with c-Abl. The imatinib effects were described as being specific for cardiomyocytes only, which are relevant also for the in vivo situation in man. [Kerkelä et al. 2006] The goal of the present study was to reproduce the published experiments and to further explore the dose-response relationship of imatinib-induced cell death in cardiomyocytes. Additional markers of toxicity were investigated. The following biochemical assays were applied: LDH release (membrane leakage marker), MTS-reduction (marker of mitochondrial integrity), ATP cellular contents (energy homoeostasis) and caspase 3/7 activity (apoptosis). The endoplasmatic reticulum (ER) stress markers eIF2α (elongation initiation factor 2α), XBP1 (X Box binding Protein 1), and CHOP (cAMP response element-binding transcription factor (C/EBP) homologous protein) were determined at the transcriptional and protein level. Online monitoring of cell attachment of, oxygen consumption and acidification of the medium by rat heart cells (H9c2) seated on chips (Bionas) allowed the determination of the onset and reversibility of cellular functions. Image analysis measured the spontaneous beating rates after imatinib treatment. The role of imatinib-induced reactive oxygen species was evaluated directly by 2’,7’-Dichlorofluorescein fluorescence and indirectly by means of interference experiments with antioxidants. The specificity of imatinib-induced effects were specific to cardiomyocytes was evaluated in fibroblasts derived from rat heart, lung and skin. The specific role of c-Abl in the imatinib-induced cellular toxicity was investigated by specific gene silencing of c-Abl in NRVCM. The results demonstrated that imatinib caused concentration-dependent cytotoxicity, apoptosis, and ER stress in heart, skin and lung fibroblasts, similar or stronger to those observed in cardiomyocytes. Similar to the results from cardiomyocytes, ER stress markers in fibroblasts were only increased at cytotoxic concentrations of imatinib. This effect was not reversible; also, reactive oxygen species did not participate in the mechanism of the imatinib-induced cytotoxicity in NRVCM. Small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated reduction of c-Abl mRNA levels by 51 % and c-Abl protein levels by 70 % had neither an effect on the spontaneous beating frequency of cardiomyocytes nor did it induce cytotoxicity, apoptosis, mitochondrial dysfunction or ER stress in NRVCM. Incubation of imatinib with c-Abl siRNA-transfected NRVCM suggested that reduced c-Abl protein levels did not rescue cardiomyocytes from imatinib-induced cytotoxicity. In conclusion, results from this study do not support a specific c-Abl-mediated mechanism of cytotoxicity in NRVCM.