Inhalation therapy of colistin is widespread in patients with cystic fibrosis. To date, no pharmacokinetic data of colistin after inhalation are available. To optimize the inhalation therapy, pharmacokinetic data of colistin are necessary. In this study, the authors describe a chromatographic analysis for measurement of colistin concentrations in serum. After protein precipitation, the colistin sample is treated with orthophthalaldehyde for derivatization. The sum of the peak areas of the two main components of colistin (polymyxin E1 and E2) were used for quantitation. The performance of the analytical method was assessed by determining the lower limit of quantitation, the selectivity of the method, the intra-assay variation, the reproducibility, the interassay variation, and the accuracy. The lower limit of quantitation was 28 microg/L. Ceftazidime, aztreonam, piperacilline, or tobramycin showed no interference with the colistin assay. In a pilot study, the authors found a trough value of approximately 10 microg/L and peak values of approximately 100 microg/L after inhalation of 160 mg colistin in serum samples of a representative patient. These values show that the method can be used to design further experiments. The applicability of the method was also tested on urine and sputum samples. Colistin was detectable but further validation experiments are required to confirm the usefulness of the method in these biologic matrices. To the authors' knowledge this is the first study in which serum concentrations are described after inhalation of colistin in patients with cystic fibrosis.