Percutaneous washes of the guttural pouches were obtained from two groups of 15 clinically normal horses, one lightly exercised and the other heavily exercised. Microbiological and cytological studies showed a wide variation in the differential cell counts. The cytological pattern of the normal lavages (< 5 per cent neutrophils) was characterised by a large proportion of ciliated columnar epithelial cells, a few non-ciliated cuboidal epithelial cells, and less than 1 per cent monocytes, lymphocytes, and eosinophils. Abnormal lavages (with more than 5 per cent neutrophils) had higher levels of bacterial growth than normal lavages. There were significant differences between the bacterial growth and total cell count, and also between the neutrophil contents of the lavages from the two groups of horses.