Alkaloid profiles in Stemona tuberosa were found to be highly variable. Six Stemona alkaloids isolated from the plant were subjected to on-line high-performance liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (HPLC/ESI-MS) and tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) analyses. Their fragmentation patterns and products were useful for their characterization. The LC/MS fingerprints of these alkaloids, though variable among samples, could provide an overall characterization of the authenticity and quality of this species and help to differentiate it from S. japonica and S. sessilifolia, as all three species are recognized as genuine sources of the herb Radix Stemonae in the Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.