Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 188.8.131.52
Appreciate the input from those in the know....
Redirection via .htaccess is all done internally, at the server, and is totally transparent to visitors, human or otherwise. I have several highly ranked pages using redirects, on several SEs, doesn't seem to be a problem.
The mod_rewrite module on Apache allows you to make redirects visible to visitors if desired but, if memory serves, one has to jump through some extra hoops to accomplish this.