Abuse of anabolic androgenic steroids is linked to a variety of cardiovascular complications. The aim of our study was to investigate the possible cardiovascular effects of nandrolone decanoate on young rabbits using echocardiography, histology and monitoring of telomerase activity, oxidative stress and biochemical markers. Fourteen rabbits were divided into three administration groups and the control group. Doses of 4 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg of nandrolone decanoate, given intramuscularly and subcutaneously, two days per week for six months were applied. A 4-months wash-out period followed. Focal fibrosis and inflammatory infiltrations of cardiac tissue were observed in the high dose groups. Thiobarbituric acid-reactive species (TBARS) levels were significantly increased in the high dose groups, while catalase activity decreased. Myocardial Performance Index (MPI) is the main echocardiographic index primarily affected by nandrolone administration in rabbits. Despite the preserved systolic performance, histological lesions observed associated with distorted MPI values, point to diastolic impairment of the thickened myocardium due to nandrolone treatment. Oxidative stress accumulates and telomerase activity in cardiac tissue rises. Subcutaneous administration seems to be more deleterious to the cardiovascular system, as oxidative stress, telomerase activity and biochemical markers do not appear to return into normal values in the wash-out period. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.