The pharmacokinetics and pharmacological efficacy of orally (p.o.) administered acepromazine were studied and compared with the intravenous (i.v.) route of administration in a cross-over study using six horses. The oral kinetics of acepromazine can be described by a two-compartment open model with first-order absorption. The drug was rapidly absorbed after p.o. administration with a half-life of 0.84 h, tmax of 0.4 h and Cmax of 59 ng/ml. The elimination was slower after p.o. administration (half-life 6.04 h) than after i.v. injection (half-life 2.6 h). The bioavailability of the orally administered drug formulation was 55.1%. After p.o. administration of 0.5 mg/kg acepromazine, the parameters of the sedative effect were similar to those obtained after i.v. injection of 0.1 mg/kg. The effect of the drug on blood cell count and haemoglobin content was similar after both p.o. administration and injection, while the effects on the parameters of penile prolapse and on the mean arterial blood pressure were less pronounced after p.o. administration than after injection. After p.o. administration, no significant effects on haematoerit-level as well as on the heart and respiratory rates were observed, while these parameters were significantly affected after injection. It is concluded that the high initial plasma level of the drug after i.v. injection may play a role in producing adverse effects of acepromazine.