Fifty-six horses with colic were examined over a period of three months. The concentrations of glucose, lactate, sodium, potassium and chloride, and the pH of samples of blood and peritoneal fluid, were determined with a portable clinical analyser and with an in-house analyser and the results were compared. Compared with the in-house analyser, the portable analyser gave higher pH values for blood and peritoneal fluid with greater variability in the alkaline range, and lower pH values in the acidic range, lower concentrations of glucose in the range below 8·3 mmol/l, and lower concentrations of lactate in venous blood in the range below 5 mmol/l and in peritoneal fluid in the range below 2 mmol/l, with less variability. On average, the portable analyser underestimated the concentrations of lactate and glucose in peritoneal fluid in comparison with the in-house analyser. Its measurements of the concentrations of sodium and chloride in peritoneal fluid had a higher bias and were more variable than the measurements in venous blood, and its measurements of potassium in venous blood and peritoneal fluid had a smaller bias and less variability than the measurements made with the in-house analyser.