For many years, toxicologists have detected the presence of drugs of abuse in biological materials using blood or urine. In recent years, remarkable advances in sensitive analytical techniques have enabled the analysis of drugs in unconventional samples such as sweat. In a study conducted in a detoxification center, sweat patches were applied to 20 known heroin abusers. Subjects wore the patch with minimal discomfort for five days. During the same period, two urine specimens were also collected. Target drugs analyzed either by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) or liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) included opiates (heroin, 6-monoacetylmorphine, morphine, codeine), cocaine (cocaine, benzoylecgonine, ecgonine methyl ester), delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol, benzodiazepines (nordiazepam, oxazepam), amphetamines (amphetamine, methamphetamine, methylenedioxyamphetamine [MDA], methylenedioxymethamphetamine [MDMA], methylenedioxyethylamphetamine [MDEA]), and buprenorphine. Patches were positive for opiates in 12 cases. Heroin (37-175 ng/patch) and/or 6-acetylmorphine (60-2386 ng/patch) were identified in eight cases, and codeine exposure (67-4018 ng/patch) was determined in four cases. When detected, heroin was always present in lower concentrations than 6-acetylmorphine, which was the major analyte found in sweat. Cocaine (324 ng/patch) and metabolites were found in only one case. delta 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (4-38 ng/patch) was identified in nine cases. Benzodiazepine concentrations were very low, ranging from 2 to 44 and from 2 to 15 ng/patch for nordiazepam and oxazepam, respectively. MDEA (121 ng/patch) and its metabolite, MDA (22 ng/patch), were detected in one case. Buprenorphine, which was administered as therapy under close medical supervision, was detected in the range 1.3-153.2 ng/patch with no apparent relationship between the daily dose and amount excreted in sweat. All the urine tests were consistent with the sweat findings, but to identify the same drugs it was necessary to test two urine specimens along with only one sweat specimen. It was concluded that sweat testing appears to offer the advantage of being a relatively noninvasive means of obtaining a cumulative estimate of drug exposure over the period of a week. This new technology may find useful applications in the treatment and monitoring of substance abusers, as the patch provides a long-term continuous monitor of drug exposure or noncompliance.