Indospicine is a hepatotoxic amino acid that accumulates in the meat of horses that consume the legume Indigofera linnaei. A method to determine indospicine concentration in biological samples using an amino acid analyser has been reported, but the analysis time is long and therefore not suited to the analysis of large numbers of samples. A rapid and reliable method was developed for the analysis of indospicine in horsemeat and serum using High Performance Liquid Chromatography. Horsemeat and serum were extracted with either water or 0.01 N hydrochloric acid, respectively, and deproteinized by ultrafiltration. Precolumn derivatization of samples with phenylisothiocyanate was followed by separation of indospicine from other amino acids on a Pico-Tag C18 column and UV detection at 254 nm. The calibration curves for indospicine in horsemeat extract were linear over the concentration range 0.4 µg ml−1 to 20 µg ml−1, while for indospicine in serum, the linear range was from 0.17 µg ml−1 to 16.67 µg ml−1. The mean recovery of indospicine in horsemeat extract was 87.2 ± 6.8 % and in serum was 97.3 ± 9.9 %. Analysis time for indospicine in horsemeat samples was 31 min and in serum samples was 36 min. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.