Abstract The optimization of the separation conditions of the two optical isomers of lactic acid by a factorial design is reported. Initially, different chiral selectors were systematically investigated and then a experimental design with three quantitative factors (cyclodextrin concentration and background buffer pH and concentration) were evaluated. Optimal conditions for obtaining a resolution higher than 1.5 were: phosphate buffer 200 m M at pH=6.0 with 413 m M 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin added (HP-β-CD), 20°C, −20 kV of applied potential and polyacrylamide-coated capillary. The method was validated for the measurement in plasma and it was applied to the identification of both isomers in body fluids such as urine, amniotic fluid and cerebrospinal fluid. Samples were centrifuged and diluted (1:4) prior to the analysis.