It has become increasingly popular in drug development to conduct discovery pharmacokinetic (PK) studies in order to evaluate important PK parameters of new chemical entities (NCEs) early in the discovery process. In these studies, dosing vehicles are typically employed in high concentrations to dissolve the test compounds in dose formulations. This can pose significant problems for the liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometric (LC/MS/MS) analysis of incurred samples due to potential signal suppression of the analytes caused by the vehicles. In this paper, model test compounds in rat plasma were analyzed using a generic fast gradient LC/MS/MS method. Commonly used dosing vehicles, including poly(ethylene glycol) 400 (PEG 400), polysorbate 80 (Tween 80), hydroxypropyl β-cyclodextrin, and N,N-dimethylacetamide, were fortified into rat plasma at 5 mg/mL before extraction. Their effects on the sample analysis results were evaluated by the method of post-column infusion. Results thus obtained indicated that polymeric vehicles such as PEG 400 and Tween 80 caused significant suppression (> 50%, compared with results obtained from plasma samples free from vehicles) to certain analytes, when minimum sample cleanup was used and the analytes happened to co-elute with the vehicles. Effective means to minimize this ‘dosing vehicle effect’ included better chromatographic separations, better sample cleanup, and alternative ionization methods. Finally, a real-world example is given to illustrate the suppression problem posed by high levels of PEG 400 in sample analysis, and to discuss steps taken in overcoming the problem. A simple but effective means of identifying a ‘dosing vehicle effect’ is also proposed. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.