Isotope ratio (IR) mass spectrometry was evaluated for the study of drug metabolism and balance using 13C,15N2- labelled antipyrine (AP) as a test drug. Rats were given 40 mg kg−1 (13C, 15N2)AP intraperitoneally. Breath, urine, faeces and blood were collected. Except for breath, samples were combusted in sealed quartz tubes. The resulting CO2 and N2 were analysed for excess 13C and 15N, relative to pre-dose samples, by IR mass spectrometry. In addition, blood levels of AP and cumulative excretion of urinary AP metabolites were determined by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry/selected ion monitoring (GC/MS/SIM) and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) respectively. Excess 13C and 15N levels in blood were comparable with observed levels of AP, and urinary recoveries of 13C (42%) were in good agreement with those calculated from HPLC data (45%). N-Demethylation, one of the important pathways of AP metabolism, was most rapidly determined by excess 13CO2 excretion in breath (8%). The IR mass spectral analysis complemented gas chromatographic/mass spectrum and HPLC analyses, and was less complex.