The effectiveness of inhibiting serosal tissue damage and preventing surgical adhesions by precoating tissues with dilute solutions of hyaluronic acid (HA) was evaluated in a rat cecal abrasion model. This study was performed at three independent laboratories using the same protocol. Three hundred and seventy-five adult rats were divided into five treatment groups (125 animals at each study site): 0.1% HA, 0.25% HA, 0.4% HA, phosphate-buffered saline solution (PBS), and no solution. The abdominal cavity of each animal was precoated with 4 ml of test solution or no solution, prior to a controlled abrasion of the cecum. One week later, the animals were sacrificed and adhesions were scored on a 0-4 scale. The data were pooled because no statistical difference was found in the trends at the three study sites. The PBS precoating and no tissue precoating treatment groups had the same high incidence of cecal adhesions, which was significantly higher than the incidence of adhesions in the HA treatment groups. As the HA concentration in the precoating solution increased from 0% (PBS group) to 0.4% HA, the mean incidence of cecal adhesions decreased in a concentration-dependent manner from 1.6 +/- 0.11 to 0.7 +/- 0.09 (P < 0.001). The percentage of animals with no cecal adhesions increased from 11% in the PBS group to 50% in the 0.4% HA treatment group (P < 0.001). In a separate histological study employing 150 rats, HA solutions significantly inhibited serosal tissue damage and ameliorated the inflammatory response due to abrasion and desiccation compared to that with no coating or precoating with buffered saline. Together, these studies demonstrate that tissue precoating with dilute HA solutions reduces damage to serosal tissues during surgery and thereby limits formation of postsurgical adhesions.