The present work describes the methodology and investigates the performance of desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) combined with a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer for the quantitation of small drug molecules in human plasma. Amoxepine, atenolol, carbamazepine, clozapine, prazosin, propranolol and verapamil were selected as target analytes while terfenadine was selected as the internal standard common to each of the analytes. Protein precipitation of human plasma using acetonitrile was utilized for all samples. Limits of detection were determined for all analytes in plasma and shown to be in the range 0.2–40 ng/mL. Quantitative analysis of amoxepine, prazosin and verapamil was performed over the range 20–7400 ng/mL and shown to be linear in all cases with R2 >0.99. In most cases, the precision (relative standard deviation) and accuracy (relative error) of each method were less than or equal to 20%, respectively. The performance of the combined techniques made it possible to analyze each sample in 15 s illustrating DESI tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) as powerful tool for the quantitation of analytes in deproteinized human plasma. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.