The objectives of this study were to determine the pharmacokinetics and tissue concentrations of doxycycline after repeated intragastric administration, and to determine the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) for equine pathogenic bacteria. In experiment 1, 2 mares received a single intragastric dose of doxycycline hyclate (3 mg/kg bwt). Mean peak serum concentration was 0.22 microg/ml 1 h postadministration. In experiment 2, 5 doses of doxycycline hyclate (10 mg/kg bwt), dissolved in water, were administered to each of 6 mares via nasogastric tube at 12 h intervals. The mean +/- s.e. peak serum doxycycline concentration was 0.32+/-0.16 microg/ml 1 h after the first dose and 0.42+/-0.05 microg/ml 2 h after the fifth dose. The mean trough serum concentrations were > 0.16 microg/ml. Highest mean synovial concentration was 0.46+/-0.13 microg/ml and highest mean peritoneal concentration was 0.43+/-0.07 microg/ml, both 2 h after the fifth dose. Highest urine concentration was mean +/- s.e. 145+/-25.4 microg/ml 2 h after the last dose. Highest endometrial concentration was mean +/- s.e. 1.30+/-0.36 microg/ml 3 h after the fifth dose. Doxycycline was not detected in any of the CSF samples. Mean +/- s.e. Vd(area) was 25.3+/-5.0 l/kg and mean t1/2 was 8.7+/-1.6 h. In experiment 3, minimum inhibitory concentrations of doxycycline were determined for 168 equine bacterial culture specimens. The MIC90 was < or = 1.0 microg/ml for Streptococcus zooepidemicus and 0.25 microg/ml for Staphylococcus aureus. Based on drug concentrations achieved in the serum, synovial and peritoneal fluids and endometrial tissues and MIC values determined in the present study, doxycycline at a dose of 10 mg/kg bwt per os every 12 h may be appropriate for the treatment of infections caused by susceptible (MIC < 0.25 microg/ml) gram-positive organisms in horses.