The effects of stationary and mobile phase on retention of 18 β-adrenolytic drugs (β-blockers) have been studied. Four ‘deactivated surface’ stationary phases (polar-embedded or end-capped) were examined. Special attention was drawn to the cholesterolic (SG-CHOL) and alkylamide (SG-AP) stationary phases, and their application for analysis of the compounds. The retention of analyzed substances was also examined in terms of mobile phase composition. Sixteen different configurations of mobile phases were prepared, all based on methanol and acetonitrile with ammonium acetate and ammonium formate. The difference in retention between ammonium formate and acetate water solutions, and peak shape changes related to the addition of triethylamine (TEA), were investigated. Principal component analysis was used to find the similarities between stationary phases. Polar-embedded phases synthesized on the same sorbent possess very similar properties. All phases based on silica gel compared with the monolithic column also showed similarities in retention of β-blockers. The addition of TEA to the mobile phase did not influence strongly the retention, and analysis of asymmetry factors showed only a little peak broadening for a few compounds on the monolithic column. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.