The most popular method to determine the activity of myosin light chain kinase is to measure the radioactivity incorporated from [gamma-32P]ATP into phosphoryl-accepting substrates. In this paper, we report a new method for determination of myosin light chain kinase activity without using radioisotopes. Synthetic peptides and nonradiolabeled ATP were used as substrate, and the peptide substrate was phosphorylated by myosin light chain kinase purified from chicken gizzard. After terminating the reaction, the reaction mixture was directly injected into a reversed-phase HPLC column without pretreatment, separated with the isocratic solvent system of acetonitrile-H2O-trifluoroacetic acid, and monitored at 220 nm uv absorbance. The reaction rate was determined from the peak areas of phosphorylated and unphosphorylated peptides. One chromatographic separation was achieved within 9 min, and the analysis could be repeated successively more than 100 times without washing the column. Using this method, we measured the differential inhibition of myosin light chain kinase by various inhibitors. With the aid of an automatic injector, the HPLC method with synthetic peptide enables us to handle many samples quickly and is useful for screening new myosin light chain kinase inhibitors.