BACKGROUND The mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt) is activated when misfolded proteins accumulate within mitochondria and leads to increased expression of mitochondrial chaperones and proteases to maintain protein quality and mitochondrial function. Cardiac mitochondria are essential for contractile function and regulation of cell viability, while mitochondrial dysfunction characterizes heart failure. The role of the UPRmt in the heart is unclear. OBJECTIVES The purpose of this study was to: 1) identify conditions that activate the UPRmt in the heart; and 2) study the relationship among the UPRmt, mitochondrial function, and cardiac contractile function. METHODS Cultured cardiac myocytes were subjected to different stresses in vitro. Mice were subjected to chronic pressure overload. Tissues and blood biomarkers were studied in patients with aortic stenosis. RESULTS Diverse neurohumoral or mitochondrial stresses transiently induced the UPRmt in cultured cardiomyocytes. The UPRmt was also induced in the hearts of mice subjected to chronic hemodynamic overload. Boosting the UPRmt with nicotinamide riboside (which augments NAD(+) pools) in cardiomyocytes in vitro or hearts in vivo significantly mitigated the reductions in mitochondrial oxygen consumption induced by these stresses. In mice subjected to pressure overload, nicotinamide riboside reduced cardiomyocyte death and contractile dysfunction. Myocardial tissue from patients with aortic stenosis also showed evidence of UPRmt activation, which correlated with reduced tissue cardiomyocyte death and fibrosis and lower plasma levels of biomarkers of cardiac damage (high-sensitivity troponin T) and dysfunction (N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide). CONCLUSIONS These results identify the induction of the UPRmt in the mammalian (including human) heart exposed to pathological stresses. Enhancement of the UPRmt ameliorates mitochondrial and contractile dysfunction, suggesting that it may serve an important protective role in the stressed heart. (C) 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier on behalf of the American College of Cardiology Foundation.