A highly sensitive reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatographic assay, with ultraviolet detection, for 6-thioinosinic acid and the 6-thioguanine nucleotides (6TGNs) was developed. The 6TGNs are major red blood cell metabolites of the immunosuppressive agent azathioprine and the cytotoxic drugs 6-thioguanine and 6-mercaptopurine. The assay is based on the specific extraction, via phenyl mercury adduct formation, of the thiopurine released on acid hydrolysis of the thionucleotide metabolite. Red blood cell 6TGN concentrations in eighteen leukaemic children receiving chronic 6-mercaptopurine chemotherapy were measured and compared to a previously published spectrophotofluorometric assay. Linear regression analysis gave r = 0.991; P less than 0.001; y = 40 + 0.94x.