A rapid and sensitive liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometric (LC-MS-MS) method for the determination of metformin in human plasma using phenformin as internal standard has been developed and validated. Sample preparation of plasma involved acidification with acetic acid, deproteination with acetonitrile and washing with dichloromethane. Samples were then analyzed by HPLC on a short Nucleosil C18 column (5 microm, 50 mm x 4.6 mm i.d.) using a mobile phase consisting of acetonitrile:methanol:10mM ammonium acetate pH 7.0 (20:20:60, v/v/v) delivered at 0.65 ml/min. Detection was performed using an Applied Biosystems Sciex API 4000 mass spectrometer set at unit resolution in the multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode. Atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) was used for ion production. The assay was linear over the range 1-2000 ng/ml with intra- and inter-day precision of <8.6% and accuracy in the range 91-110%. The limit of detection was 250 pg/ml in plasma. The method was successfully applied to a clinical pharmacokinetic study of an extended-release tablet of metformin hydrochloride (500 mg) administered as a single oral dose.