The type and location of deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) lesions may be important in predicting outcome. The objectives of this study were to determine the frequency of different types of DDFT lesions within the hoof capsule and to determine whether lesion type predicts return to athletic activity. Lesions of the DDFT were divided into: core lesions, dorsal border lesions and parasagittal splits. Lesion location was documented, and follow-up information was obtained by telephone survey at least 18 months after diagnosis. Of 168 horses with primary DDFT injury, 54 horses had dorsal border lesions, 59 had parasagittal splits and 55 had core lesions. Twenty-five per cent of all horses returned to previous levels of athletic activity within 18 months of MRI evaluation. Horses with complete splits or core lesions of the DDFT were significantly less likely to return to some level of athletic activity than horses with dorsal border lesions P<0.001. Dorsal border lesions of the DDFT appear to have a better prognosis than core lesions or parasagittal splits. This study provides additional information that may help clinicians predict the prognosis for different types of DDFT injury.