BACKGROUND: In recent years there is growing interest in therapeutic drug monitoring of mycophenolic acid (MPA) and its glucuronide metabolites MPAG and AcMPAG. Like other acyl glucuronide metabolites, AcMPAG has a limited stability, but this aspect has received little attention. METHODS: Plasma sample deproteinization with perchloric acid 2 M (method A) was compared to metaphosphoric acid 15% (method B). Stability of MPA, MPAG and AcMPAG in acidified and non-acidified plasma stored at room temperature, 4 degrees C, -20 degrees C and -80 degrees C was assessed over short and long time intervals using HPLC-UV methodology. RESULTS: The area ratio of AcMPAG/IS on spiked plasma at pH 2.5 with method A was 63% of the respective ratio in water, in contrast to 102% with method B, suggesting partial deconjugation and/or incomplete release of AcMPAG from proteins with method A. At room temperature, AcMPAG concentrations in both whole blood and non-acidified plasma decreased significantly after 2-5 h. MPA, MPAG and AcMPAG concentrations remained stable in acidified plasma stored at -20 degrees C and -80 degrees C, but not longer than 5 months after collection. CONCLUSIONS: It is concluded that adequate sample collection, storage measures and deproteinization methods should be applied in order to avoid deconjugation and hence underestimation of MPA, MPAG and AcMPAG concentrations.