A need for a simple method for the determination of mannitol in urine has arisen because of the use of this monosaccharide in intestinal permeability tests. A rapid spectrophotometric assay for mannitol is presented based on the use of the bacterial enzyme mannitol dehydrogenase. The technique has been automated for use on the Cobas-Bio (Roche) centrifugal analyser. The assay has been shown to be highly specific for mannitol and was not affected by high concentrations of glucose, lactose or lactulose in samples. Within assay coefficient of variation was in the range 0.3 to 1.1% and 0.6 to 2.4% between assays. The technique represents a significant improvement in terms of time, simplicity and precision on existing methods.