Monitoring steroid use requires an understanding of the metabolism in the species in question and development of sensitive methods for screening of the steroid or its metabolites in urine. Qualitative information for confirmation of methandrostenolone and identification of its metabolites was primarily obtained by coupled-column high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The steroids and a sulphuric acid conjugate were isolated and identified by their daughter ion mass spectra in the urine of both man and the horse following administration of methandrostenolone. Spontaneous hydrolysis of methandrostenolone sulphate gave 17-epimethandrostenolone and several dehydration products. This reaction had a half-life of 16 min in equine urine at 27 degrees C. Mono- and dihydroxylated metabolites were also identified. Several screening methods were evaluated for detection and confirmation of methandrostenolone use including thin-layer chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatography. Coupled-column liquid chromatography was used for automated clean-up of analytes difficult to isolate by manual methods. The recovery of methandrostenolone was 101 +/- 3.3% (mean +/- S.D.) at 6.5 ng/ml and both methandrostenolone and 17-epimethandrostenolone were quantified in urine by ultraviolet detection up to six days after a 250-mg intramuscular dose to a horse. The utility of on-line tandem mass spectrometry for confirmation of suspected metabolites is also shown.