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This study tested the hypothesis that orange peel (O) and decaffeinated black tea (T) extracts would alter markers of exercise performance as well as exercise-induced mRNA expression for the inflammatory cytokines IL-6, TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma. Nine healthy, unfit Standardbred mares (age: 10±4 years, ∼450 kg) were assigned to three treatment groups in a randomized crossover design where each horse was administered one of the following; placebo (O; 2 l water), black tea extract in water (T; 2 l) or orange peel extract in water (W; 2 l), via a nasogastric tube. One hour later the horses completed an incremental graded exercise test (GXT) on a treadmill at a fixed 6% grade with measurements and blood samples obtained at rest, at the end of each 1 min step of the GXT and at 2 and 5 min post-GXT. An additional set of blood samples for Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) measurements of mRNA was obtained before exercise and at 5 and 30 min and 1, 2, 4 and 24 h post-GXT. The GXTs were conducted between 0700 and 1200 h not less than 7 days apart. There were no differences (P > 0.05) in VO2max, respiratory exchange ratio, run time, velocity at VO2max, core body temperature, haematocrit, creatine kinase (CK), plasma lactate concentrations, HR, right ventricular pressure (RVP) or pulmonary artery pressure (PAP) across treatments. A major finding was that orange peel extract significantly reduced post-exercise VO2 recovery time (W=112±7, O=86±6, and T=120±11 s). There was a significant difference in plasma total protein concentration (TP) in the O runs compared with water and T. TNF-alpha mRNA expression was lower in the T runs compared with water and O trials. IFN-gamma mRNA expression levels appeared to be lower in both the T and O extract runs compared with the water trials. The mRNA expression of IL-6 was unaltered across treatment groups. These data suggest that orange peel and black tea extracts may modulate the cytokine responses to intense exercise. Orange peel extract reduced post-exercise recovery time and may potentially enhance the ability of horses to perform subsequent bouts of high-intensity exercise.