A high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionization (ESI) tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) method was developed for the chemical fingerprint analysis of Scutellaria baicalensis and rapid identification of major compounds in the fingerprints. The chromatography was carried on a C18 analytical column (150 mm x 4.6 mm, 2.7 μm) with gradient elution using acetonitrile and 0.25% (v/v) formic acid. Mass spectrometry was performed in the negative ion mode using ESI. Sixteen main peaks in the fingerprints were identified by comparing the UV and MS spectra data with those from the authentic standards and literature. This method was successfully employed for the identification of Scutellariae Radix in three traditional Chinese medicine preparations, namely Shin Yi Ching Fey Tang, Huang Lien Chieh Tu Tang and Lung Tan Hsieh Kan Tang. The developed fingerprint assay was specific and could be readily utilized for comprehensive evaluation of Scutellariae Radix.

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