An h.p.l.c. method was developed for the assay of coproporphyrinogen oxidase activity in rat liver. The protoporphyrinogen IX formed is completely oxidized to protoporphyrin IX for separation and quantification by reversed-phase chromatography with mesoporphyrin as the internal standard. The Km of coproporphrinogen oxidase is 1.01 +/- 0.23 microM. The activities are 4.07 +/- 0.40 nmol of protoporphyrin IX/h per mg of mitochondrial protein and 224 +/- 19 nmol of protoporphyrin IX/h per g of liver tissue homogenate. The method is sensitive enough for measuring enzyme activity in small amounts of human tissue from needle biopsy.