A simple and sensitive high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) assay applied to the measurement of ibuprofen in rat plasma has been developed. Two parameters have been investigated to improve ibuprofen detectability using fluorescence detection: variation of mobile phase pH and the use of beta-cyclodextrin (beta-CD). Increasing the pH value from 2.5 to 6.5 and adding 5 mM beta-CD enhanced the fluorescence signal (lambda(exc) = 224 nm; lambda(em) = 290 nm) by 2.5 and 1.3-fold, respectively, when using standards. In the case of plasma samples, only pH variation significantly lowered detection and quantification limits, down to 10 and 35 ng/mL, respectively. Full selectivity was obtained with a single step for plasma treatment, that is, protein precipitation with acidified acetonitrile. The validated method was applied to a pharmacokinetic study of ibuprofen encapsulated in microspheres and subcutaneously administered to rats.