A procedure is presented for determination of the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) activity in liver cytosolic preparations using 3,4-dihydroxyphenethylamine as substrate and by quantifying the product 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenethylamine (3-MHP). For quantification of 3-MHP in liver cytosolic preparations a gas chromatographic-mass spectrometric procedure after liquid-liquid extraction and acetylation was established and validated. The intra- and inter-day accuracy and precision were better than 15% and 20%, respectively. Extraction efficiency and selectivity were also sufficient. For in statu nascendi derivatization of unstable catecholic metabolites in liver microsome preparations, cytosolic preparations with COMT activities of at least 1 nmol product/min/mg protein were used after addition of S-adenosylmethionine. Such catecholic metabolites, which are claimed to be responsible for toxic effects in vivo, e.g., neurotoxicity or carcinogenesis, must not be overlooked in in vitro metabolism studies. Using this trick, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was suitable for the determination of catecholic metabolites in human and rat liver preparations after the same sample preparation as for 3-MHP quantification. The applicability was exemplified for the antidepressant paroxetine.