Two proanthocyanidin (PA) fractions, one (Sdp3) with the mean degree of polymerization (mDP) of 3 and the other (Sdp9) with mDP of 9, were obtained from a Vitis vinifera cv. Shiraz grape seed extract. The PA fractions were directly analyzed by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ES-MS) and negative ion mass spectra were recorded. The mass spectrum of Sdp3 exhibited only singly charged ions corresponding to the molecular mass of PA with a degree of polymerization (DP) up to 9 (nonamers). In contrast, Sdp9 yielded rather complex mass spectra featuring ions with single [M − H], double [M − 2H]2− and triple [M − 3H]3− charge representing the molecular masses of PAs up to a DP of 28. In addition, the degree of galloylation per procyanidin (DG) was observed to be up to 5 (pentagallates) in Sdp3 and 8 (octagallates) in the Sdp9. This is the first evidence obtained by mass spectrometry for the distribution of grape seed PAs with such a high degree of polymerization and a broad diversity of galloylation. ES-MS data together with the complementary information provided by acid hydrolysis provides a detailed picture of the composition of grape seed PAs. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.