We have modified gradient HPLC procedures for simultaneous quantification of retinol, gamma-tocopherol, alpha-tocopherol, lutein/zeaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, trans-lycopene, cis-lycopene, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene in 200-microl aliquots of human plasma. The photosensitivity of these analytes in plasma exposed to fluorescent lighting for up to 72 h was investigated and most were stable under these conditions. The stability of these analytes held in darkness at -20 degrees C, 4 degrees C or room temperature for up to 48 h after extraction from plasma was also investigated. Variability in measurement of most analytes was greater at room temperature than at 4 degrees C or -20 degrees C. There were statistically significant variations in the measured concentrations of some analytes in samples kept cold. However, the magnitude of these variations was small and of little biological significance, particularly over the first 24 h.