An easy, rapid and simple nonaqueous capillary electrophoresis (NACE) method was developed for the identification and determination of four basic nitrogenous compounds, i.e. pseudoephedrine (PE), dextromethorphan (DXM), diphenhydramine (DHM) and chlorpheniramine (CLP). The most suitable running buffer was composed of 40 mM ammonium acetate, 10% acetonitrile (ACN) in methanol with a fused-silica capillary column (47 cm x 75 microm i.d.), 25 kV applied voltage and 25 degrees C capillary temperature. The calibration curves revealed linear relationships between the peak area for each analyte and its concentration (correlation coefficients: 0.9993 for PE, 0.9971 for DXM, 0.9991 for DHM, and 0.9995 for CLP, respectively). The relative standard deviations of the migration time and peak area of the four compounds were 0.37, 3.90, 0.73 and 0.68, and 2.80, 3.50, 1.60 and 3.70%, respectively. The method was successfully applied to determine the four compounds in five cold medicines, the recoveries of the four constituents ranging between 91 and 109%.