The effects of administration of one of four opiates (pethidine 1 mg/kg bodyweight (bwt), morpine 0.1 mg/kg bwt, methadone 0.1 mg/kg bwt, and butorphanol 0.05 mg/kg bwt) given intravenously to horses and ponies already sedated with detomidine (10 μg kg bwt) were investigated. Behavioural, cardiovascular and respiratory effects of the combinations were compared with those occurring with detomidine alone. Addition of the opiate increased the apparent sedation and decreased the response of the animal to external stimuli. At doses used, butorphanol produced the most reliable response. Side effects seen were increased ataxia (greatest following methadone and butorphanol) and excitement (usually muzzle tremors and muscle twitching). Following pethidine, generalised excitement was sometimes seen. Marked cardiovascular changes occurred in the first few minutes after morphine or pethidine injection, but within 5 mins cardiovascular changes were minimal. Following morphine or pethidine there was a significant increase in arterial carbon dioxide tension. Fourteen clinical cases were successfully sedated using detomidine/butorphanol combinations.