Urinary phenol is analyzed widely to determine benzene exposure in humans. Most methods utilize direct measurements of phenols after extraction from urine using gas chromatography or high-performance liquid chromatography. We describe a novel derivatization of urinary phenols using 4-carbethoxyhexafluorobutyryl chloride after extraction from urine and subsequent analysis by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The derivative elutes at significantly higher temperature than phenol and the method is free from interferences from more volatile components in urine. We also observed excellent chromatographic properties of these derivatives. In addition, we observed strong molecular ions for the 4-carbethoxyhexafluorobutyryl derivative of phenol (m/z 344), p-cresol (m/z 358) and the internal standard 3,4-dimethylphenol (m/z 372) and other characteristic ions in the electron ionization, thus aiding in unambiguous identification of these compounds. The protonated molecular ions (m/z 373 for derivatized phenol, m/z 359 for derivatized p-cresol and m/z 373 for the internal standard) were the base peaks (relative abundance 100%) in the chemical ionization, although other secondary peaks were less abundant. The assay is linear for phenol concentration of 1-100 mg/l. The within-run and between-run precisions were 4.8% (mean = 52.4, S.D. = 2.5 mg/l) and 8.1% (mean = 53.0, S.D. = 4.3 mg/l) respectively, and the detection limit was 0.5 mg/l.