A rapid, specific and reliable isocratic high-performance liquid chromatography combined with quadrupole time-of-flight electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (LC/Q-TOF-ESI-MS/MS) method has been developed and validated for the identification and characterization of stressed degradation products of metoprolol. Metoprolol, an anti-hypertensive drug, was subjected to hydrolysis (acidic, alkaline and neutral), oxidation, photolysis and thermal stress, as per ICH-specified conditions. The drug showed extensive degradation under oxidative and hydrolysis (acid and base) stress conditions. However, it was stable to thermal, neutral and photolysis stress conditions. A total of 14 degradation products were observed and the chromatographic separation of the drug and its degradation products was achieved on a C18 column (4.6 × 250 mm, 5 µm). To characterize degradation products, initially the mass spectral fragmentation pathway of the drug was established with the help of MS/MS, MSn and accurate mass measurements. Similarly, fragmentation pattern and accurate masses of the degradation products were established by subjecting them to LC-MS/QTOF analysis. Structure elucidation of degradation products was achieved by comparing their fragmentation pattern with that of the drug. The degradation products DP2 (m/z 153) and DP14 (m/z 236) were matched with impurity B, listed in European Pharmacopoeia and British Pharmacopoeia, and impurity I, respectively. The LC-MS method was validated with respect to specificity, linearity, accuracy and precision. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.