A new simple reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatographic method was developed for the determination of irinotecan (CPT-11) and three metabolites in human plasma, urine and feces homogenate. The metabolites of interest were 7-ethyl-10-hydroxycamptothecin (SN-38), its beta-glucuronide derivative (SN-38G) and 7-ethyl-10-[4-N-(5-aminopentanoic acid)-1-piperidino]carbonyloxycamptothecin (RPR 121056A; also referred to as APC). Sample pretreatment from the various biological matrices involved a rapid protein precipitation with simultaneous solvent extraction of 250-microl aliquots of sample with 500 microl of methanol-5% (w/v) aqueous perchloric acid (1:1, v/v). Separation of the compounds was achieved on an analytical column packed with Hypersil ODS material (100X4.6 mm I.D., 5 microm), and isocratic elution with a mixture of methanol-0.1 M ammonium acetate containing 10 mM tetrabutylammonium sulphate (30:70, v/v), pH 5.3 (hydrochloric acid). The column effluent was monitored at excitation and emission wavelengths of 355 and 515 nm, respectively. Results from a 4-day validation study indicated that this single-run determination allows for simple, simultaneous and rapid quantitation and identification of all analytes with excellent reliability. The described procedure permits the analysis of patient samples, and will be implemented in future studies to investigate the complete metabolic fate and disposition of CPT-11 in cancer patients.