Abstract A novel approach to the analysis of acylcarnitines has been developed. It involves a direct esterification using propyl chloroformate in aqueous propanol followed by ion-pair extraction with potassium iodide into chloroform and subsequent on-column N-demethylation of the resulting acylcarnitine propyl ester iodides. The products, acyl N-demethylcarnitine propyl esters, are volatile and are easily analyzed by gas chromatography-chemical ionization mass spectrometry. For medium-chain-length (C 4C 12) acylcarnitine standards, detection limits are demonstrated to be well below 1 ng starting material using selected ion monitoring. Well-separated gas chromatographic peaks and structure-specific mass spectra are obtained with samples of synthetic and biological origin. Seven acylcarnitines have been characterized in the urine of a patient suffering from medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency.