The mass spectral fragmentation behavior of ten iridoid glucosides (IGs) has been studied using electrospray ionization (ESI), collision-induced dissociation (CID), and quadrupole time-of-flight tandem mass spectrometry (Q-TOF MS/MS). In the negative ESI mass spectra, the deprotonated [M-H](-) ion was observed for all of the ten IGs except gardoside methyl ester, while the formate adduct [M+HCOO](-) ion appeared to be favored by the presence of a methyl ester or a lactone group in the C-4 position when formic acid was added to the mobile phase. The CID MS/MS spectra of the [M-H](-) ions have been used for structural elucidation. Ring cleavages of the aglycone moiety have been observed in the MS/MS spectra, corresponding to (1,4)F(-), (2,6)F(-), (2,7)F(-), and (2,7)F(0) (-) ions, based on accurate mass measurements and the elemental compositions of the product ions. These characteristic ions gave valuable information on the basic structural skeletons. Furthermore, on the basis of the relative abundances of the fragment ions (1,4)F(-) and (2,7)F(-), different sub-classes, such as cyclopentane-type and 7,8-cyclopentene-type IGs, can be differentiated. Ring cleavage of the sugar moieties was also observed, yielding useful information for their characterization. In addition, the neutral losses, such as H(2)O, CO(2), CH(3)OH, CH(3)COOH, and glucosidic units, have proved useful for confirming the presence of functional substituents in the structures of the IGs. Based on the fragmentation patterns of these standard IGs, twelve IGs have been characterized in an extract of Hedyotis diffusa Willd. by means of ultra-performance liquid chromatography/Q-TOF MS/MS, of which six have been unambiguously identified and the other six have been tentatively identified.