The evaluation of interactions between drug candidates and transporters such as P-glycoprotein (P-gp) has gained considerable interest in drug discovery and development. Inhibition of P-gp can be assessed by performing bi-directional permeability studies with in vitro P-gp-expressing cellular model systems such as Caco-2 (human colon carcinoma) cells, using digoxin as a substrate probe. Existing methodologies include either assaying 3H-digoxin with liquid scintillation counting (LSC) detection or assaying non-labeled digoxin with liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometric (LC-MS/MS) analysis at a speed of several minutes per sample. However, it is not feasible to achieve a throughput high enough using these approaches to sustain an early liability screen that generates more than a thousand samples on a daily basis. To address this challenge, we developed an ultrafast (9 s per sample) bioanalytical method for digoxin analysis using RapidFire™, an on-line solid-phase extraction (SPE) system, with MS/MS detection. A stable isotope labeled analog, d3-digoxin, was used as internal standard to minimize potential ionization matrix effect during the RF-MS/MS analysis. The RF-MS/MS method was more than 16 times faster than the LC-MS/MS method but demonstrated similar sensitivity, selectivity, reproducibility, linearity and robustness. P-gp inhibition results of multiple validation compounds obtained with this RF-MS/MS method were in agreement with those generated by both the LC-MS/MS method and the 3H-radiolabel assay. This method has been successfully deployed to assess P-gp inhibition potential as an important early liability screen for drug–transporter interaction. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.