Ultra high-performance liquid chromatographic (UHPLC) systems on columns packed with materials ranging from 1.9 to 2.7 µm average particle size were assessed for the fast and sensitive analysis of porphyrins in clinical materials. The fastest separation was achieved on an Agilent Poroshell C18 column (2.7 µm particle size, 50 × 4.6 mm i.d.), followed by a Thermo Hypersil Gold C18 column (1.9 µm particle size, 50 × 2.1 mm i.d.) and the Thermo Hypersil BDS C18 column (2.4 µm particle size, 100 × 2.1 mm i.d.). All columns required a mobile phase containing 1 m ammonium acetate buffer, pH 5.16, with a mixture of acetonitrile and methanol as the organic modifiers for optimum resolution of the type I and III isomers, particularly for uroporphyrin I and III isomers. All UHPLC columns were suitable and superior to conventional HPLC columns packed with 5 µm average particle size materials for clinical sample analysis. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.