The metabolism of diclofenac has been reported to produce reactive benzoquinone imine intermediates. We describe the identification of mercapturic acid derivatives of diclofenac in rats and humans. Three male Sprague-Dawley rats were administered diclofenac in aqueous solution (pH 7) at 50 mg/kg by intraperitoneal injection, and urine was collected for 24 h. Human urine specimens were obtained, and samples were pooled from 50 individuals. Urine samples were analyzed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS). Two metabolites with MH(+) ions at m/z 473 were detected in rat urine and identified tentatively as N-acetylcysteine conjugates of monohydroxydiclofenac. Based upon collision-induced fragmentation of the MH(+) ions, accurate mass measurements of product ions, and comparison of LC/MS/MS properties of the metabolites with those of synthetic reference compounds, one metabolite was assigned as 5-hydroxy-4-(N-acetylcystein-S-yl)diclofenac and the other as 4'-hydroxy-3'-(N-acetylcystein-S-yl)diclofenac. The former conjugate also was detected in the pooled human urine sample by multiple reaction-monitoring LC/MS/MS analysis. It is likely that these mercapturic acid derivatives represent degradation products of the corresponding glutathione adducts derived from diclofenac-2,5-quinone imine and 1',4'-quinone imine, respectively. Our data are consistent with previous findings, which suggest that oxidative bioactivation of diclofenac in humans proceeds via benzoquinone imine intermediates.