Similar symptoms of the different types of arthritis have continued to confound the clinical diagnosis and represent a clinical dilemma making treatment choices with a more personalized or generalized approach. Here we report a mass spectrometry-based metabolic phenotyping study to identify the global metabolic defects associated with arthritis as well as metabolic signatures of four major types of arthritis--rheumatoid arthritis (n = 27), osteoarthritis (n = 27), ankylosing spondylitis (n = 27), and gout (n = 33)--compared with healthy control subjects (n = 60). A total of 196 metabolites were identified from serum samples using a combined gas chromatography coupled with time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC-TOF MS) and ultraperformance liquid chromatography quadrupole-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-QTOF MS). A global metabolic profile is identified from all arthritic patients, suggesting that there are common metabolic defects resulting from joint inflammation and lesion. Meanwhile, differentially expressed serum metabolites are identified constituting an unique metabolic signature of each type of arthritis that can be used as biomarkers for diagnosis and patient stratification. The results highlight the applicability of metabonomic phenotyping as a novel diagnostic tool for arthritis complementary to existing clinical modalities.