Coronary heart disease is one of the main causes of death in the developed world, and treatment success remains modest, with high mortality rates within 1 year after myocardial infarction (MI). Thus, new therapeutic targets and effective treatments are necessary. Short telomeres are risk factors for age-associated diseases, including heart disease. Here we address the potential of telomerase (Tert) activation in prevention of heart failure after MI in adult mice. We use adeno-associated viruses for cardiac-specific Tert expression. We find that upon MI, hearts expressing Tert show attenuated cardiac dilation, improved ventricular function and smaller infarct scars concomitant with increased mouse survival by 17% compared with controls. Furthermore, Tert treatment results in elongated telomeres, increased numbers of Ki67 and pH3-positive cardiomyocytes and a gene expression switch towards a regeneration signature of neonatal mice. Our work suggests telomerase activation could be a therapeutic strategy to prevent heart failure after MI.