Eighteen samples of commercially available Chinese beer were analyzed in order to determine the content of biogenic amines. The method involves pre-column derivatization of the amines with 4-chloro-3,5-dinitrobenzotrifluoride (CNBF) and subsequent analysis by RP-HPLC (reversed phase-high performance liquid chromatography) with diode array detection. The labeled biogenic amines were separated on a Kromasil C18 column (250mmx4.6mm, 5microm) at room temperature and UV detection was applied at 254nm. The separation of seven labeled biogenic amines was achieved within 22min by elution acetonitrile and HAc-NaAc buffers. The method linearity, calculated for each biogenic amine, has a correlation coefficient higher than 0.9925, in concentrations ranging from 2.9micromolL(-1) to 565micromolL(-1). Detection limits of biogenic amines were 0.056-0.87micromolL(-1), at a signal-to-noise ratio of 3. The proposed method has been applied to the quantitative determination of spermine, phenethylamine, spermidine, histamine, tyramine, tryptamine and putrescine in beer with recoveries of 91.9-103.1% and R.S.D. of 2.86-5.63%. Quantitation is relative to external standards. The results showed that each kind of beer examined contained at least three biogenic amines. Putrescine, histamine and tyramine were detected in all samples. Spermidine was detected in 89% of the beers. Spermine, tryptamine and phenylethylamine occurred in 78%, 61% and 44% of the beers examined, respectively. These levels were below the level that may elicit direct adverse reactions for most consumers.