The effect of vitamin E and oleoresin rosemary on heterocyclic aromatic amine (HAA) formation in fried ground beef patties was studied. Patties were fried at three temperatures (175 degrees C, 200 degrees C, 225 degrees C) for 6 and 10 min/side to determine the conditions for optimum HAA formation. HAAs were isolated by solid phase extraction and quantitated by HPLC. Greatest concentrations were generated when patties were fried at 225 degrees C for 10 min/side, 31.4 ng/g 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) and 5.8 ng/g 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (MeIQx). Vitamin E, when used at two concentrations (1% and 10% based on fat content) and added directly to the ground beef patties, reduced PhIP concentrations in the cooked patties by 69% and 72%, respectively. Smaller but more variable reductions were achieved for MeIQx. Comparable inhibition of HAA formation was achieved by the direct addition of vitamin E (1% based on fat content) to the surface of the patties before frying. Concentrations of five HAAs studied were all significantly reduced (P<0.006), with average reductions ranging from 45% to 75%. Oleoresin rosemary, when used at two concentrations (1% and 10% based on fat content), reduced PhIP formation by 44%.