Synovial sepsis of unknown origin is a rare cause of lameness in the adult horse, and a haematogenous pathogenesis has been proposed in previous cases. To describe the features and outcome of synovial sepsis of unknown origin in adult Thoroughbred racehorses. Retrospective case series. Hospital records for admissions between 2005 and 2015 were reviewed to identify adult horses diagnosed with synovial sepsis of unknown origin. Presentation, clinicopathological, microbiological and diagnostic imaging findings were recorded. Treatment methods, surgical findings, complications and long-term outcome were evaluated. Eleven cases were identified over the study period. Diagnosis was established from clinical examination and clinicopathologic findings, which were comparable to other aetiologies of synovial sepsis. Affected structures included synovial joints, tendon sheaths and bursae. Concurrent osteochondritis dissecans or articular cartilage lesions were evident during arthroscopic surgery in three cases. Significant intrasynovial haemorrhage was not identified. Microbial culture of synovial fluid or synovial biopsy was positive in 6/11 of cases, with all isolates being Gram-positive cocci. Of the 6 positive microbial cultures, all isolates demonstrated in vitro sensitivity to a cephalosporin antimicrobial agent. A concurrent remote wound was present in a single case. No other potential origins of bacteraemia were identified. Treatment methods included endoscopic surgery, standing multineedle lavage, intravenous regional limb perfusion, intrasynovial medication and/or systemic antimicrobial administration. All horses survived to hospital discharge. For the 6/11 cases that raced following synovial sepsis, the median period for return to racing was 221 days. A small study population, which was retrospectively reviewed. Synovial sepsis of unknown origin is rare in the adult Thoroughbred racehorse and can affect a range of synovial structures. A concurrent potential source of bacteraemia is rarely identified. With appropriate management, the prognosis to return to racing is fair. © 2019 EVJ Ltd.