After artificial insemination or mating an inflammatory response is induced by spermatozoa and components of the inseminate or ejaculate. In order to investigate the inflammatory reaction of the endometrium to different semen extenders, phosphate buffered saline (PBS), seminal plasma (SP), skim milk-based extender (SM) or egg yolk semen extender (EY) was inoculated into the uterus of oestrous mares (n=8) during four consecutive cycles in alternating order. Twelve hours after treatment, a uterine lavage was performed and an endometrial biopsy was taken. An additional biopsy was taken in the oestrous cycle before experiments were started. No differences in volume, pH, specific density or cell count of lavage fluid were found between the treatments. A significantly (p<0.01) lower number of leukocytes in the endometrium was identified in pre-experiment biopsies (68+/-5 leukocytes per field) compared to PBS (154+/-32), SP (175+/-22), SM (193+/-29) and EY treatments (113+/-17). PMN numbers were lower (p<0.01) after infusion of EY (23+/-10) compared to PBS (59+/-21) and SM extender (69+/-21). The number of eosinophils increased after inoculation of SP (p<0.05 vs. PBS, SM and EY). All treatments increased expression of interleukins (IL)-1beta and 6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and cyclooxgygenase-2 (COX-2) in the endometrium compared to pre-experiment values. Expression of COX-2 mRNA was significantly higher after infusion of SM than after PBS treatment (p<0.04). In conclusion, extender alone as well as seminal plasma and PBS causes an inflammatory endometrial response with the least pronounced response induced by EY-based semen extender.