An aqueous slurry of gamma-irradiated sterilized dried figs was inoculated with toxigenic strains of Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. During incubation at 28 degrees C, pH, fructose, glucose, and free amino acids were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography and liquid chromatography (LC)/mass spectrometry, respectively, over 13 time points (1-20 days). At the same 13 time points using a LC/time-of-flight mass spectrometry screening method, aflatoxin B 1 and other secondary metabolites were simultaneously monitored. During the course of incubation, the pH significantly decreased and aflatoxin B 1 formation correlated with a reduction in proline content for both fungi. Of the 22 free amino acids that were monitored, only proline and cystine were found to be critical in supporting aflatoxin production. Levels of fructose and glucose steadily declined during incubation, until glucose was almost exhausted after 21 days. These time-course experiments confirmed the need for carbon and nitrogen sources for aflatoxin production in dried figs, and the favorable composition of figs as a fungal growth medium.