Pre-column derivatization with o-phthaldialdehyde is a rapid and sensitive method for the quantitation of amino acids in biological fluids. This method uses acetonitrile as a deproteinizing reagent which gives improved recovery of tryptophan compared with 5-sulfosalicylic acid and permits the measurement of aspartic acid which coelutes with 5-sulfosalicylic acid. The method is automated to increase reproducibility and convenience. Mean coefficients of variation for peak areas relative to internal standard were 3.2 and 5.2% for amino acid standards and plasma samples, respectively. The presence of nitrilotriacetic acid stabilized the o-phthaldialdehyde reagent which is important in an automated system. The method is suitable for the analysis of large numbers of plasma samples where total tryptophan and aspartic acid are of interest.