Chemical ionization tandem mass spectrometry (CI-MS/MS) of alkaloids with ammonia reagent gas and collision-activated dissociation as well as EI-MS/MS were applied to the tetraponerine alkaloids in extracts from six pseudomyrmecine ants of the genus Tetraponera. The MS/MS techniques along with gas chromatography Fourier transform infrared (GC/FTIR) spectra allowed identification in two extracts of seven of the eight known tetraponerines. The EI-MS/MS fragmentations proved diagnostic for the ring system and the CI-MS/MS patterns for the C-8 or C-9 substitution, while the Bohlmann bands in FTIR spectra were diagnostic for the C-8 or C-9 configurations. An Indian ant (T. allaborans) had T–2, T–4 and T–8, while a Chinese ant (T. binghami) had T–5, T–6, T–7 and T–8. Four other ants, T. rufonigra (India), T. penzigi (Africa), T. clypeata (Africa) and T. sp. cf. emeryi (Africa), had no tetraponerines. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.