The aim of this study was to develop a diagnostically useful smear method for preparation of equine bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) for use by practitioners. A smear method for equine BALF preparation which included the addition of serum was developed, and cell morphology, differential cell counts (DCC) and repeatability of counting DCC compared with those of cytocentrifuged BALF preparations. BALF samples (n = 21) were collected from 5 control horses and 5 heaves-susceptible horses. Smear preparations of BALF produced smaller, darker, staining cells, making cytological identification more difficult than on cytocentrifuged preparations. There was a significantly higher (P<0.01) macrophage DCC and lower lymphocyte DCC on cytocentrifuged compared to smear preparations. Mast cell and eosinophil DCC were significantly higher (P<0.05) on cytocentrifuged compared to smear preparations of BALF. Smear preparations were shown to be reliable for the cytological diagnosis of equine neutrophilic pulmonary disease and offer practitioners an alternative to sending equine BALF to a laboratory for processing and cytological analysis.