A compensatory stepping response (CSR) is a common strategy to restore dynamic stability in response to a postural disturbance. Currently, few studies have investigated the CSR to laterally directed disturbances delivered to subjects during quiet standing. The purpose of this study was to characterize the CSR of younger adults following exposure to a series of similar laterally directed disturbances for which no instructions were given with regard to the recovery response. We hypothesized that in the absence of externally applied constraints to the recovery response, subjects would be equally as likely to perform a crossover step as a sidestep sequence (SSS). We further hypothesized that there would be an asymmetry in arm abduction that would be dependent on the disturbance direction. Finally, we were interested in characterizing the effect of practice on the CSR to repeated disturbances. Ten younger adults were exposed to thirty laterally directed platform disturbances that forced a stepping response. Subjects responded by primarily utilizing a SSS that differs from previously reported results. Further, five of the ten subjects utilized a different recovery response that was dependent on the direction of the disturbance (i.e., left or right). Greater arm abduction was characterized for the arm in the direction of the external disturbance in comparison with the contralateral arm. Lastly, subjects modified their recovery response to this task within 12 disturbances. Taken together, these results suggest that recovery responses to laterally directed disturbances can be quickly modified but can be quite variable between and within subjects. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.