We evaluated the composition of Swertia herbs using high performance liquid chromatography-diode array detector-mass spectrometry (HPLC-DAD-MS). Eleven peaks of 6 species were unequivocally identified by comparing their retention times, UV spectra, on-line electrospray ionization mass (ESI-MS) spectra, and collision-induced dissociation mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry (CID-MS/MS) data with those of authentic compounds. We adopted wavelengths of 254 nm, 340 nm and 230 nm to simultaneously determine these 11 compounds. By comparing the overall DAD and total ion current (TIC) profiles of various samples, the 6 species were differentiated in terms of the occurrence and/or relative concentrations of the eleven compounds. Our novel validated HPLC-DAD-MS method not only facilitates quality control and identification of Swertia herbs, but is also applicable to systematic investigations of the distribution of secoiridoids, flavonoids, and xanthones in the genus Swertia.