Two oral rehydration solutions (ORS 1 and ORS 2) were evaluated in isolated intestinal loops of anaesthetised calves, in an experimental model of dehydration in the calf, in calves with experimentally induced diarrhoea and in 164 calves with clinical diarrhoea. The studies in isolated intestinal loops indicated that water absorption was significantly greater from ORS 2 than from ORS 1. After the intraperitoneal administration of hypertonic mannitol combined with intravenous diuretics, the plasma volume of calves was reduced by about 30 per cent, and was more rapidly expanded after treatment with ORS 2 than ORS 1. The plasma volume remained significantly reduced (P less than 0.01) three hours after dosing with ORS 1 whereas after treatment with ORS 2 it was not significantly different from the initial value. Acidosis was corrected to a significantly (P less than 0.01) greater extent after treatment with ORS 2, and peripheral perfusion also returned to normal more rapidly in calves given ORS 2. In newly purchased calves in which diarrhoea was induced experimentally with an E coli challenge, base deficit and diarrhoea were corrected more rapidly in the calves receiving ORS 2. When the solutions were tested in the treatment of 164 clinical cases of diarrhoea and dehydration there was no statistically significant difference in mortality between the formulations, although the overall mortality was 4.8 per cent in the calves treated with ORS 2, compared with 8.6 per cent in the calves treated with ORS 1. It was concluded that ORS 2 performed better than ORS 1 especially in the expansion of plasma volume and the correction of acidosis.