A suitable derivatization method for the trace analysis of bile acids by gas chromatography (GC) in combination with negative ion chemical ionization (NICI) mass spectrometry is described. Of various derivatives for the carboxyl group, the pentafluorobenzyl (PFB) ester provided the highest value of the ratio of the negative to the positive ion current. A characteristic carboxylate anion [M - 181]- was produced as the most abundant ion by the loss of the PFB group in NICI. The PFB esters were further derivatized to the dimethylethylsilyl (DMES) ethers, whereby lithocholic acid, deoxycholic acid, chenodeoxycholic acid, ursodeoxycholic acid and cholic acid were distinctly separated by GC on a cross-linked methyl silicone fused-silica capillary column. The detection limit for the PFB-DMES derivatives of dihydroxylated bile acids was 2 fg when the fragment ion was monitored at m/z 563 in the NICI mode using isobutane as a reagent gas.