Background. Intra-abdominal infection is complicated by adhesion and abscess formation. We have assessed the adhesion- and abscess-reducing capacity of various solution volumes and concentrations of two polyanionic polysaccharides, hyaluronan (HA) and carboxymethylcellulose (CMC), in a rat peritonitis model. Study design. In 192 male Wistar rats a bacterial peritonitis was induced using cecal ligation and puncture. After 24 h the abdomen was reopened and the ligated cecum resected. Animals were randomized into three control groups, nine groups treated with various solution volumes (1 to 8 ml) containing different HA concentrations, and four groups treated with 1.7% CMC solution. Rats were killed at day 7, postoperatively, and adhesions were scored at five abdominal sites on a scale from 0 to 4. The presence and size of intra-abdominal abscesses were noted. Results. Fifty-four rats (28%) prematurely died. There was no significant difference in mortality between treatment groups and controls. Treatment with CMC (P < 0.001) and low (0.2 and 0.4%) concentrations of HA (P < 0.005) significantly reduced intra-abdominal adhesion formation. High volumes of 0.2 and 0.4% HA were most effective (P = 0.01). The effect of CMC was volume independent. The incidence of abdominal abscesses was also significantly reduced by treatment with either CMC (P < 0.001) or low concentrations of HA (P < 0.001). With regard to abscess formation the effect was independent of the volume administered for HA, while low volumes of CMC were most effective (P < 0.005). Conclusion. Intraperitoneal treatment with either CMC or low-viscosity HA solution reduced intra-abdominal adhesion and abscess formation in a rat peritonitis model. The volume-induced reduction in adhesion formation suggests a hydroflotation effect of HA solution.