Oxylipins are oxygenated derivatives of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that act as chemical mediators in many ecological and physiological processes in marine and freshwater diatoms. The occurrence and distribution of these molecules are relatively widespread within the lineage with considerable species-specific differences due to the variability of both the fatty acids recognized as substrates and the enzymatic transformations. The present review provides a general introduction to recent studies on diatom oxylipins and describes an analytical method for the detection and assessment of these elusive molecules in laboratory and field samples. This methodology is based on selective enrichment of the oxylipin fraction by solvent extraction, followed by parallel acquisition of full-scan UV and tandem mass spectra on reverse phase liquid chromatography (LC) peaks. The analytical procedure enables identification of potential genetic differences, enzymatic regulation, and ecophysiological conditions that result in different oxylipin signatures, thus providing an effective tool for probing the functional relevance of this class of lipids in plankton communities. Examples of oxylipin measurements in field samples are also provided as a demonstration of the analytical potential of the methodology.