Heat stress negatively affects reproduction in cattle by disrupting the normal function of ovarian granulosa cells (GCs), ultimately leading to oxidative damage and cell death via apoptosis. Heme oxygenase-1(HO-1) is a member of the heat shock protein family, which are associated with cellular antioxidant defenses and anti-apoptotic functions. Recent studies demonstrated that HO-1 is upregulated in heat-stressed cells. In the present study, we investigated the expression of HO-1 in bovine GCs transiently exposed to heat stress and characterized the expression and activity of key oxidative stress enzymes and molecules. We show that heat stress induced oxidative stress and apoptosis, and enhanced Nrf2 and HO-1 expression in primary GC cultures. Knocking down HO-1 expression using siRNA exacerbated both oxidative stress and apoptosis, whereas pre-treating GCs with hemin, which induces HO-1 expression, partially prevented these effects. These findings demonstrate that HO-1 attenuates heat stress-induced apoptosis in bovine GCs by decreasing production of reactive oxygen species and activating the antioxidant response.