A reliable and rapid method based on rapid-resolution liquid chromatography–diode array detection (RRLC-DAD) and electrospray ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (ESI-TOF/MS) has been developed for the isolation and characterization of multiple constituents in the root of Stellera chamaejasme L., which was extracted by sonication with methanol in an optimized procedure. Separation of the multiple constituents was achieved on an Agilent Zorbax XDB-C18 (50 × 3.0 mm i.d.; 1.8 µm) column using a gradient elution at a flow rate of 0.4 mL/min. The detection wavelength was 210 nm. Mass spectra were acquired in both positive and negative modes. A formula database of the known chemical constituents in the root of Stellera chamaejasme L. was established by an Agilent software. Twenty-two obvious peaks appeared in the total ion chromatogram and nine of them were characterized by TOF/MS. The RRLC-DAD and ESI-TOF/MS method with ultrasonic extraction would be useful for rapid and effective characterization of chemical constituents in the root of Stellera chamaejasme L. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.