Background: Hyaluronic acid (HA) agents reduce postsurgical adhesion formation. The effect of their perioperative administration on early anastomotic healing is unknown. This study investigated the influence of two HA-containing agents on the development of strength in colonic anastomosis during the first postoperative week, both in normal rats and in rats with bacterial peritonitis. Methods: In 90 male Wistar rats a 1-cm segment was resected from the descending colon and an end-to-end anastomosis was constructed. In 108 rats a bacterial peritonitis was induced using caecal ligation and puncture (CLP). Some 24 h after CLP the abdomen was reopened, the caecum was taken out and, after resection of a 1-cm segment, an anastomosis was made. Animals in both groups were randomized to receive either an HA-carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) bioresorbable membrane, 0.4 per cent HA solution or no treatment. One-third of each group was killed at day 1, 3 and 7 after operation. Cultures were taken from the abdominal cavity for microbiological analysis in half of the animals. Subsequently, both bursting pressure and breaking strength were determined as parameters for anastomotic strength. Results: No differences in anastomotic bursting pressure or breaking strength were found between the experimental groups and their controls. In addition, there was no significant difference in the number of bacteria cultured from the abdominal cavity between rats treated with HA and controls. Conclusion: Neither HA-CMC bioresorbable membrane nor 0.4 per cent HA solution interferes with the development of early anastomotic strength in the colon, and can therefore be safely used to prevent intra-abdominal adhesion formation after performing bowel anastomosis.