A post-column infusion system was developed in order to analyze suppression of electrospray ionization (ESI) tandem mass spectrometry response in the presence of endogenous plasma interferences. By enabling direct detection of these interfering components, this experimental system was used to analyze the ability of several common extraction procedures to remove endogenous plasma components that cause changes in the ESI response of model drug substances. Methyl-t-butyl ether (MTBE) liquid-liquid, Oasis and Empore solid-phase, and acetonitrile (ACN) protein precipitation sample preparation methods were tested using the post-column infusion system. In all cases, ACN protein precipitation samples showed the greatest amount of ESI response suppression while liquid-liquid extracts demonstrated the least. In addition, the three test compounds, phenacetin, caffeine, and a representative Merck compound, demonstrated that ESI response suppression is compound dependent. Suppression was greatest with caffeine, the most polar analyte, and the smallest for the Merck compound, the least polar analyte. Copyright 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.