The purpose of the study was to describe the prevalence of upper airway abnormalities and establish if any significant associations existed between study variables and the two most frequently identified disorders; axial deviation of the aryepiglottic folds and dorsal displacement of the soft palate. The clinical records and video-recordings of all horses referred for upper respiratory tract evaluation during high-speed treadmill videoendoscopy between November 1997 and September 2003 were reviewed. Of 291 horses included in the study, 265 underwent resting endoscopy and 42% (112/265) had a recognised abnormality. More than one abnormality was identified in 49% of horses. In general, horses referred specifically for evaluation of a respiratory tract noise were more likely to have an abnormality detected during exercise than those referred for high-speed treadmill videoendoscopy for poor performance (82% versus 49%). Axial deviation of the aryepiglottic folds (105/192, 55%) was the most common abnormality identified, followed by dorsal displacement of the soft palate (74/192, 39%) and idiopathic left laryngeal hemiplegia (65/192, 34%). Other abnormalities identified included arytenoid collapse, vocal fold collapse, dynamic pharyngeal collapse, epiglottic fold entrapment, epiglottic retroversion, rostral displacement of the palatopharyngeal arch and right laryngeal hemiplegia. In horses with axial deviation of the aryepiglottic folds there was a significant association between the increasing severity of the deviation and the increasing number of abnormalities detected. There were no other associations found. High-speed treadmill videoendoscopy is an important component of the evaluation of poor performance, particularly in horses with a history of respiratory noise. The occurrence of multiple abnormalities in a large proportion of horses suggests that high-speed treadmill videoendoscopy should be recommended, where possible, to make an accurate diagnosis, advise on appropriate treatment options and provide a prognosis for affected horses.