Extracts from artichoke leaves are traditionally used in the treatment of dyspeptic and hepatic disorders. Various potential pharmacodynamic effects have been observed in vitro for mono- and dicaffeoylquinic acids (e.g. chlorogenic acid, cynarin), caffeic acid and flavonoids (e.g. luteolin-7-O-glucoside) which are the main phenolic constituents of artichoke leaf extract (ALE). However, in vivo not only the genuine extract constituents but also their metabolites may contribute to efficacy. Therefore, the evaluation of systemic availability of potential bioactive plant constituents is a major prerequisite for the interpretation of in vitro pharmacological testing. In order to get more detailed information about absorption, metabolism and disposition of ALE, two different extracts were administered to 14 healthy volunteers in a crossover study. Each subject received doses of both extracts. Extract A administered dose: caffeoylquinic acids equivalent to 107.0 mg caffeic acid and luteolin glycosides equivalent to 14.4 mg luteolin. Extract B administered dose: caffeoylquinic acids equivalent to 153.8 mg caffeic acid and luteolin glycosides equivalent to 35.2 mg luteolin. Urine and plasma analysis were performed by a validated HPLC method using 12-channel coulometric array detection. In human plasma or urine none of the genuine target extract constituents could be detected. However, caffeic acid (CA), its methylated derivates ferulic acid (FA) and isoferulic acid (IFA) and the hydrogenation products dihydrocaffeic acid (DHCA) and dihydroferulic acid (DHFA) were identified as metabolites derived from caffeoylquinic acids. Except of DHFA all of these compounds were present as sulfates or glucuronides. Peak plasma concentrations of total CA, FA and IFA were reached within 1 h and declined over 24 h showing almost biphasic profiles. In contrast maximum concentrations for total DHCA and DHFA were observed only after 6-7 h, indicating two different metabolic pathways for caffeoylquinic acids. Luteolin administered as glucoside was recovered from plasma and urine only as sulfate or glucuronide but neither in form of genuine glucosides nor as free luteolin. Peak plasma concentrations were reached rapidly within 0.5 h. The elimination showed a biphasic profile.