Macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF), known as a hematopoietic growth factor, induces vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) production from skeletal muscles. However, the effects of M-CSF on cardiomyocytes have not been reported. Here, we show M-CSF increases VEGF production from cardiomyocytes, protects cardiomyocytes and myotubes from cell death, and improves cardiac function after ischemic injury. In mice, M-CSF increased VEGF production in hearts and in freshly isolated cardiomyocytes, which showed M-CSF receptor expression. In rat cell line H9c2 cardiomyocytes and myotubes, M-CSF induced VEGF production via the Akt signaling pathway, and M-CSF pretreatment protected these cells from H2O2-induced cell death. M-CSF activated Akt and extracellular signal-regulated kinase signaling pathways and up-regulated downstream anti-apoptotic Bcl-xL expression in these cells. Using goats as a large animal model of myocardial infarction, we found that M-CSF treatment after the onset of myocardial infarction by permanent coronary artery ligation promoted angiogenesis in ischemic hearts but did not reduce the infarct area. M-CSF pretreatment of the goat myocardial infarction model by coronary artery occlusion-reperfusion improved cardiac function, as assessed by hemodynamic parameters and echocardiography. These results suggest M-CSF might be a novel therapeutic agent for ischemic heart disease.