Six Standardbred (STB) mares (11+/-2 years, 521+/-77 kg; means+/-SD) performed an exercise trial (EX) where they underwent an incremental exercise test (GXT) as well as a parallel control trial (CON) to test the hypothesis that short-term, high intensity exercise would alter plasma concentrations of glucose, leptin, adiponectin, ghrelin, insulin and cortisol. Plasma samples were taken before (0 min), during (last 10s at 6, 8m/s, and the velocity eliciting VO(2max)), and after exercise (2, 10, 30, 60 min; 12 and 24h post-GXT). A second set of blood samples was collected before and after an afternoon meal given at 1515 h (at 1500, 1514, 1530, and 1545 h). Data were analyzed using ANOVA for repeated measures and Tukey's test. During the GXT, there were no changes (P>0.05) in the plasma concentrations of glucose, leptin, adiponectin or ghrelin. However, there was a 29% increase (P<0.05) in mean plasma cortisol concentration and a 35% decrease (P<0.05) in mean plasma insulin concentration. Substantial increases (P<0.05) in the mean plasma concentrations of glucose and cortisol of 36% and 102%, respectively, were seen in the EX trial during the first 60 min post-GXT. Plasma leptin concentration, measured at the 24h post-GXT time point, was 20% lower (P<0.05) during the EX trial compared with the parallel time point in the standing control (CON) trial. Plasma ghrelin concentration was 37% lower (P<0.05) in the EX trial compared with CON before and after the afternoon meal, but was 43% higher (P<0.05) 12h post-GXT. There were no differences between EX and CON for plasma concentrations of insulin or adiponectin during recovery. It was concluded that short-term high intensity exercise alters plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations in STB mares post-exercise, which may signal the exercised animals to alter energy intake.