The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of an external nasal strip (NS), frusemide (FR) and a combination of the 2 treatments (NS + FR) on exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage (EIPH) in Thoroughbred horses. It was hypothesised that both the NS and FR would attenuate EIPH as assessed by red blood cell count in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. In random order, 8 horses completed each of 4 sprint exercise tests on a treadmill: 1) NS; 2) FR (0.5 mg/kg bwt i.v., 4 h pre-exercise); 3) NS + FR; and 4) control (C; no treatment). After a 5 min warm-up (4.5 m/s), horses completed 2 min running at 120% maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max) with the treadmill set at 3 degrees incline. Mean +/- s.d. running speed was 14.2+/-0.2 m/s. In the FR and NS + FR trials, horses carried weight equal to that lost as a result of frusemide administration. During exercise at 120% Vo2max, oxygen consumption (Vo2) and carbon dioxide production (Vco2) were measured at 15 s intervals. Plasma lactate concentration was measured in samples collected before exercise, at the end of the sprint and after 5 min cool-down at the trot. Thirty minutes after the run, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) was performed and the red cell count in the fluid quantified. Vo2 and Vco2 were significantly lower in NS and NS + FR trials than in the C and FR trials at the end of the sprint exercise protocol. However, plasma lactate concentrations did not differ among treatments. Compared with the C trial (61.1+/-30.5 x 10(6) red blood cells/ml BAL fluid), pulmonary haemorrhage was significantly (P<0.05) decreased in both the NS (15.9+/-4.0 x 106 RBC/ml) and FR (12.2+/-5.8 x 10(6) RBC/ml) trials. EIPH in the NS + FR trial (7.9+/-1.0 x 10(6) RBC/ml) was further diminished (P<0.05) compared to the NS trial, but not different from the FR trial. We conclude that both the external nasal strip and frusemide attenuate pulmonary haemorrhage in Thoroughbred horses during high-speed sprint exercise. The external nasal strip appears to lower the metabolic cost of supramaximal exertion in horses. Given the purported ergogenic effects of frusemide, the external nasal strip is a valuable alternative for the attenuation of EIPH.