A rapid, simple and economical method was described for the simultaneous determination of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and patulin in apple juice. The sample was extracted with ethyl acetate and the extract was then cleaned up by extraction with a sodium carbonate solution. Then HMF and patulin were determined by reversed-phase liquid chromatography using a C-18 column and a photodiode array detector. HMF and patulin could be completely resolved by using the mixture water-acetonitrile (99:1, v/v) as the mobile phase with a flow rate of 1.0 ml/min. Mean recoveries of HMF ranged from 86% to 100% with an overall mean of 94%, that of patulin ranged from 94% to 125% with an overall mean of 103%, for different spiking levels. The limits of detection for HMF and patulin in apple juice were found to be <0.01 mg/l and <5 mu g/l, respectively. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.