Four horses were randomly fed a diet containing rolled, micronised or extruded barley; the barley intake was adjusted to supply 2 g starch/kg bodyweight per day. During a 10-day acclimatisation period the horses were also fed 1 kg grass hay/100 kg bodyweight per day. Samples of blood and breath were collected at the end of each period after the test meal of barley had been fed after a 12-hour overnight fast. The glycaemic and insulinaemic responses of the horses were measured as an indication of the pre-caecal digestibility of starch, and postprandial breath hydrogen and methane were measured to detect microbial fermentation of starch. The highest peak serum glucose and serum insulin concentrations were observed after feeding the extruded barley, lower concentrations were observed after feeding the micronised barley and the lowest concentrations were observed after feeding the rolled barley. Breath hydrogen increased within four hours of feeding all the barley diets, and the mean (sd) peak hydrogen concentrations were 98·3 (55·2) ppm for rolled barley, 59·3 (31·5) ppm for micronised barley and 96·1 (51·9) ppm for extruded barley. There were wide variations within individual horses but these concentrations were not significantly different. Breath methane concentrations were very variable and, although there were no significant differences, there was a trend for higher methane concentrations after the feeding of rolled barley.