Abstract Unmodified silica gel size-exclusion columns were used in an on-line combination with light-scattering detection for a size characterization of dextrans. The influence of electrostatic interactions on analyte retention was briefly investigated. Size-exclusion chromatography was also used for evaluation of the fluorescence labeling procedure for dextrans with 8-aminonaphthalene-1,3,6-trisulfonic acid. The derivatives obtained through this procedure were used for electrophoretic measurements with laser-induced fluorescence detection. A comparison between the size-exclusion data and capillary electrophoresis indicates that the effectiveness of fluorescent labeling decreases with molecular mass of the dextran analytes.