To study the effect of short term high intensity exercise on plasma lactate, potassium, sodium and chloride concentrations, five Thoroughbred horses were galloped on a treadmill at a 5° incline. Following a standardised warm-up period, they were galloped at 8, 10, or 12 metres/sec for 2 mins. One horse also galloped at 14 metres/sec for 1.5 mins. Sequential arterial and/or venous blood samples were collected during exercise and recovery. At 12 metres/sec, the effect of different recovery modes, ie, standing, walking or trotting, on the electrolytes was also examined. There was a progressive rise in plasma potassium concentration during galloping, with peak values occurring at the end of the exercise bout. In some cases, values above 10 mmol/litre were recorded at the highest workloads. Plasma lactate concentrations peaked during early recovery, with values up to 32 mmol/litre. A high correlation existed between peak potassium and lactate concentrations (venous r=0.923, and arterial r=0.989). Following exercise there was a rapid return to baseline plasma potassium concentrations, but by 12 mins recovery there was still an elevated lactate concentration, the extent depending on the intensity of the exercise bout and the recovery mode. There was a small rise in plasma sodium but no significant change in plasma chloride concentrations during exercise. However, when adjusted for the decrease in plasma volume, as determined from total plasma protein concentration, there was a decrease in circulating amounts of both electrolytes.