SULT1A3 is an enzyme that catalyzes the sulfonation of many endogenous and exogenous phenols and catechols. The most important endogenous substrate is dopamine (DA), which is often used as a probe substrate for SULT1A3. We developed a new method for analyzing the SULT1A3 reaction products by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with electrochemical detection. The sulfonate donor 3'-phosphoadenosine-5'-phosphosulfate (PAPS), DA and the two dopamine sulfates, DA-3-O-sulfate and DA-4-O-sulfate, can be separated within 3 min. This enables quantitation of the sulfates without radioactive PAPS or the precipitation of unreacted PAPS. Both sulfates were synthesized as reference substances and characterized by (1)H and (13)C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), mass spectrometry (MS) and tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). The purity of the dopamine sulfates was estimated by HPLC using a diode array detector. We determined the enzyme kinetic parameters for formation of DA-3-O-sulfate and DA-4-O-sulfate using purified recombinant human SULT1A3. The reactions followed Michaelis-Menten kinetics up to 50 microM DA concentration, and strong substrate inhibition was observed at higher concentrations. The apparent K(m) values for sulfonation at both hydroxy groups were similar (2.21+/-0.764 and 2.59+/-1.06 microM for DA-4-O-sulfate and DA-3-O-sulfate, respectively), but the V(max) was approximately six times higher for the formation of the 3-O-sulfate (344+/-139 nmol/min/mg protein) than the 4-O-sulfate (45.4+/-16.5 nmol/min/mg protein). These results are in accordance with the observation that DA-3-O-sulfate is more abundant in human blood than DA-4-O-sulfate and that in the crystal structure of SULT1A3 with dopamine bound to the active site, the 3-hydroxy group is aligned to form hydrogen bonds with catalytic residues of the enzyme.