Abstract Phosphatidylethanolamines (PEs) react with HOCl under formation of the mono- and dichloramines which are easily converted into secondary products (nitriles and imines). PEs with unsaturated acyl residues also give chlorhydrines. The aim of this study was to investigate whether all products may be detected by electrospray ionization (ESI) and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry (MS). Results indicated that chloramines and imines are nearly exclusively detectable by ESI-MS, whereas all other products are detectable by both MALDI and ESI-MS. Therefore, ESI-MS is superior for the detection of chlorinated products of PEs.