A method for the quantification of salidroside, a major biologically active compound in Rhodiola, in rat plasma by on-line SPE LC/MS/MS in negative electrospray mode was developed and validated. A column-switching instrument and two HPLC pumping systems were employed, and salicin was used as the internal standard. A Waters Oasis HLB extraction column and an Agilent TC-C(18) analytical column in a column-switching set-up with gradient elution were utilized. The MS/MS ion transitions monitored were m/z 299.0/119.0 and 285.1/122.9 for salidroside and salicin, respectively. The standard curves were linear within a range of 50-5000 ng/mL using weighted linear regression analysis (1/x). The intra- and inter-day coefficients of variance ranged from 1% to 9%. The recovery was above 90%. The freeze/thaw and long-term stability were validated. This method was subsequently applied to a pharmacokinetic study of salidroside in rats.