Combinations of detomidine (mean dose rate 13 micrograms/kg) and butorphanol (mean dose rate 26 micrograms/kg) were used to sedate 61 horses for a variety of surgical or diagnostic procedures in general equine practice. Three horses were sedated on more than one occasion. The degree of sedation was graded from 3 to 0 (deep sedation to no effect) and any side effects were recorded. Forty-three per cent of the horses were graded 3, 46 per cent were graded 2, 8 per cent were graded 1 and 3 per cent were graded 0. Bradycardia and ataxia were the major side effects. The combination was judged to be effective and safe for use in general practice. In 56 horses (92 per cent) the necessary procedure was carried out under excellent conditions and in only one horse was the degree of sedation considered to be totally unsatisfactory.