OBJECTIVE To compare the effects of equivalent volumes of equine plasma and 6% hydroxyethyl starch (600/0.75) solution (hetastarch) administered IV on plasma colloid osmotic pressure (pCOP) and commonly monitored clinicopathologic variables in horses. ANIMALS 6 healthy mares. PROCEDURES In a randomized, crossover study, horses were administered hetastarch or plasma (both 10 mL/kg, IV) 18 months apart. The pCOP and variables of interest were measured before (baseline), immediately after, and at intervals up to 96 or 120 hours after infusion. Prothrombin and activated partial thromboplastin times were measured before and at 2 and 8 hours after each infusion. RESULTS Prior to hetastarch and plasma infusions, mean ± SEM pCOP was 19.4 ± 0.5 mm Hg and 19.4 ± 0.8 mm Hg, respectively. In general, hetastarch and plasma infusions comparably increased pCOP from baseline for 48 hours, with maximum increases of 2.0 and 2.3 mm Hg, respectively. Mean Hct and hemoglobin, total protein, and albumin concentrations were decreased for a period of 72, 96, or 120 hours after hetastarch infusion with maximum decrements of 8.8%, 3.2 g/dL, 1.2 g/dL, and 0.6 g/dL, respectively. Plasma infusion decreased (albeit not always significantly) hemoglobin concentration and Hct for 20 and 24 hours (maximum changes of 1.5 g/dL and 6.6%, respectively) and increased total solids concentration (maximum change of 0.6 g/dL) for 48 hours. Platelet count and coagulation times were minimally affected. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Overall, the hetastarch and plasma infusions comparably increased pCOP in healthy horses for up to 48 hours. Hetastarch induced greater, more persistent perturbations in clinicopathologic variables.