Chelidonium majus L. is one of the most important medicinal plants of the family Papaveraceae. Its pharmacological effects have been primarily attributed to the presence of a number of alkaloids. In the present study, a sensitive and selective liquid chromatography−tandem mass spectrometry method for simultaneous determination of five isoquinoline alkaloids from Chelidonium majus L. was developed and validated. The analytes (protopine, chelidonine, coptisine, sanguinarine and chelerythrine), together with the internal standard (palmatine), were extracted from acidified rat plasma with ethyl acetate−dichloromethane (4:1, v/v). Chromatographic separation was carried out on a Diamonsil C18 column with an isocratic mobile phase consisting of acetonitrile and water (adjusted to pH 2.3 with formic acid) (30:70, v/v) at a flow rate of 0.4 ml/min. Mass spectrometric detection was performed by selected reaction monitoring mode via electrospray ionization source operating in positive ionization mode. The assay exhibited good linearity (r ≥ 0.9933) for all the analytes. The lower limits of quantification were 0.197−1.27 ng/ml using only 50 µl of plasma sample. The intra- and inter-day precisions were less than 11.9%, and the accuracy was between −6.3% and 9.3%. The method was successfully applied to the pharmacokinetic study of the five alkaloids in rats after intragastric administration of Chelidonium majus L. extract. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.