Three standard assays for pyruvate gave equivalent measurements of relative pungency for two leek cultivars ( 'Tadorna' and 'Ramona'). Background pyruvate levels varied depending on the assay used, ranging from 0.4 (lactate dehydrogenase) to 1.5 (high-performance liquid chromatography, HPLC) micromol g(-1) fresh weight (FW) on average. The relative pungencies of the two leek cultivars were also compared to total concentrations of the S-alk(en)yl-L-cysteine sulfoxides (RCSOs). The average ratio of EPy to total RCSOs was 10.9, indicating that standard pungency assays underestimate the levels of RCSOs in the tissue. A detailed analysis of 'Tadorna' leaves showed that total RCSO concentrations decreased acropetally. Profiles were composed of (-/+)-methyl-, (-/+)-ethyl-, (+)-propyl-, and (+)-1-propenyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide (MCSO, ECSO, PCSO, and 1-PeCSO, respectively). (+)-PCSO was the most prominent in green (2.4 mg g (-1) FW), yellow (5.5 mg g (-1) FW), and white (3.8 mg g (-1) FW) tissues. The prop(en)yl-L-cysteine sulfoxide derivatives were dominant in tissues that had photosynthetic capacity. The (+)-MCSO levels were high in the bulb (3.6 mg g (-1) FW). Interestingly, detectable levels of (-/+)-ECSO were measured in the leaves ( approximately 0.5 mg g (-1) FW). RCSO profiles of the different tissue regions were similar, but more (+)-PCSO and (+)-1-PeCSO were detected in the bulb. In general, mature upper leaf tissues had lower levels of total RCSOs. Overall, mild extraction methods and a low-temperature HPLC protocol (preferably with long retention times) achieved adequate compound separation and resolution of the diastereomers.