Background: Coronary intervention (PCI) may result in an increased infarct size. We evaluated the effect of distal protection during PCI for ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) on myocardial function. Methods: Patients with STEMI were randomly referred within 12 h for PCI with (N = 312) or without distal protection (N = 314). Left ventricular (LV) contractile function was assessed with echocardiography 8 months after PCI. Global LV myocardial wall motion index (WMI) was calculated as the average wall motion score of all myocardial segments. The occurrence of death, nonfatal re-infarction, and stroke 8 months after PCI were also recorded. Results: The occurrence of death, nonfatal re-infarction, and stroke 8 months after PCI was 7.1% after distal protection and 5.7% after conventional treatment (p = 0.17). WMI improved by 4.1% at 8 months in patients treated with distal protection compared to patients receiving conventional PCI (p < 0.01). In myocardium supplied by a culprit artery treated by distal protection regional LV function was 9-11% higher than myocardial regions treated conventionally (p < 0.02). Conclusions: Routine use of distal protection during primary PCI is associated with a significant improvement in LV contractile function, with no detectable impact on intermediate term clinical outcome.