Of all plant constituents, coffee has one of the highest concentrations of chlorogenic acids. When roasting coffee, some of these are transformed into chlorogenic acid lactones (CGL). We have studied the formation of CGL during the roasting of coffee beans in Coffea arabica cv. Bourbon; C. arabicacv. Longberry; and C. canephora cv. Robusta. Individual CGL levels were determined by comparison of HPLC peaks with those of synthetic CGL standards. Seven CGL were identified: 3-caffeoylquinic-1,5-lactone (3-CQL), 4- caffeoylquinic-1,5-lactone (4-CQL), 3-coumaroylquinic-1,5-lactone (3-pCoQL), 4-coumaroylquinic-1,5-lactone (4-pCoQL), 3-feruloylquinic-1,5-lactone (3-FQL), 4-feruloylquinic-1,5-lactone (4-FQL), and 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic-1,5-lactone (3,4-diCQL). 3-CQL was the most abundant lactone in C. arabica and C. canephora, reaching peak values of 230 +/- 9 and 254 +/- 4 mg/100 g (dry weight), respectively, at light medium roast ( approximately 14% weight loss). 4-CQL was the second most abundant lactone (116 +/- 3 and 139 +/- 2 mg/100 g, respectively. The maximum amount of CGL represents approximately 30% of the available precursors. The relative levels of 3-CQL and 4-CQL in roasted coffee were reverse to those of their precursors in green coffee. This suggests that roasting causes isomerization of chlorogenic acids prior to the formation of lactones and that the levels of lactones in roasted coffee do not reflect the levels of precursors in green coffee.