To evaluate the side effects of oral pivampicillin and trimethoprim/ sulphadiazine, 200 horses receiving these antimicrobial agents were studied. The horses received either trimethoprim/ sulphadiazine (30 mg/kg twice daily) or pivampicillin (25 mg/kg twice daily) for three or more days. No adverse effects other than loose faeces and diarrhoea were detected. The risk of diarrhoea was significantly less after the oral administration of pivampicillin (3 per cent) than after trimethoprim/ sulphadiazine (7 per cent). Horses whose appetite was reduced appeared to be predisposed to develop diarrhoea after the administration of either oral antimicrobial agent.