The determination of antiretroviral drug concentrations in patients treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is an essential part of optimum patient management because of the multitude of pharmacokinetic drug interactions between these drugs and the risk of treatment failure or viral resistance if therapeutic concentrations are not reached. Currently, 21 different antiretrovirals are used in various combinations rendering therapeutic drug monitoring a laborious task. We therefore aimed to simultaneously determine as many antiretrovirals as possible using triple quadrupole mass spectroscopy with electrospray ionisation. For this purpose, spectra and fragmentation patterns of the protease inhibitors amprenavir, atazanavir, indinavir, lopinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, and saquinavir, the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors delavirdine, efavirenz, and nevirapine, the nucleoside reverse transcription inhibitors abacavir, didanosine, emtricitabine, lamivudine, stavudine, zalcitabine, and zidovudine, and the nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor tenofovir were evaluated. A bioanalytical method to determine all protease and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, and zalcitabine and zidovudine concentrations in biological matrices was developed. Samples were prepared by protein precipitation with methanol after addition of three different internal standards. Antiretrovirals were separated by high-performance liquid chromatography on a Nucleosil C18-100 Nautilus column using a gradient of 20 mM ammonium acetate including 0.1% aqueous acetic acid and acetonitrile and detected by electrospray ionisation/tandem mass spectrometry in the negative (efavirenz, stavudine, zidovudine) or positive ionisation mode (all other compounds). The bioanalytical method was successfully validated according to FDA guidelines and applied to plasma and cerebrospinal fluid samples of patients treated for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.