OBJECTIVES: This study sought to determine whether metformin improves vascular function or myocardial ischemia in nondiabetic subjects. BACKGROUND: Metformin prevents diabetes and may reduce coronary events in patients with diabetes, but effects on microvascular function and angina are not clear. METHODS: We conducted an 8-week double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of metformin 500 mg twice a day in 33 nondiabetic women with a prior history of normal coronary angiography but two consecutive positive (ST-segment depression =1 mm) exercise tolerance tests. All parameters were measured at baseline and at 8 weeks, together with an in vivo assessment of forearm (skin) microvascular function using laser Doppler imaging combined with iontophoresis. RESULTS: In comparison with placebo (n = 17), metformin recipients (n = 16) showed significant reductions in weight and in homeostatic model assessment for insulin resistance (p < 0.05, intention to treat). Endothelium-dependent microvascular responses improved significantly with metformin (2-way repeated analysis of variance, p = 0.0003), but responses with placebo were unchanged (p = 0.50). A comparison of change in acetylcholine responses between metformin and placebo recipients was significant, whether analyzed by a 2-way analysis of variance (p < 0.0001) or change in area under curves (mean change +392 perfusion units, 95% confidence interval [CI] 20 to 764). Endothelium-independent responses were not altered. Maximal ST-segment depression (-0.84 mm, 95% CI -1.49 to -0.20, p = 0.013), Duke score (6.1 U, 95% CI 1.8 to 10.5, p = 0.008), and chest pain incidence (-0.11 episodes/day, 95% CI -0.22 to 0.00, p = 0.056) improved in metformin relative to placebo recipients. CONCLUSIONS: Metformin may improve vascular function and decrease myocardial ischemia in nondiabetic women with chest pain and angiographically normal coronary arteries. Larger controlled trials of longer duration are warranted.