In biological samples, proteins and peptides are altered by proteolytic activity. The actual ex vivo form of the peptidome or proteome analyzed, therefore, does not always reflect the natural in vivo state. Sample stabilization and sample treatment are thereby decisive for how far these two states diverge. To assess ex vivo formation of peptides, we used enzymatic incorporation of oxygen-18 water during proteolysis (PALeO approach) to label ex-vivo-formed peptides in rodent brain tissue. Rates of ex-vivo-formed peptides were determined in 25 samples that were stabilized and treated by six different protocols, whereby samples were subjected to different conditions such as temperature, urea concentration, and duration of treatment. Samples were measured by nano LC-Orbitrap-MS, and incorporation of oxygen-18 was determined by MS/MS database search and analysis of the precursor isotope pattern. Extent of ex vivo degradations was affected relevantly by the sample treatment protocol applied and stopped almost completely by heat stabilization. Determination of the formation state by oxygen-18 incorporation by MS/MS database search correlated well to more elaborate analysis of the MS isotope pattern. Overall, oxygen-18 labeling in combination with shotgun data-acquisition and MS/MS database search offers an adjuvant and easily applicable tool to monitor sample quality and fidelity in peptide and neuropeptide sample preparations.