The reactivities, in nonenzymic browning, of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a non-protein amino acid with wide natural occurrence and potential health benefits as it occurs in foods, and of the alpha-L-amino acids arginine, glutamic acid, glutamine, leucine, lysine, and phenylalanine were investigated by heating equimolar mixtures of glucose and the cited amino acids at 110 degrees C at pH 6.0 for different times (0-4 h). Linear regression analysis indicated that the colour development in a GABA/glucose mixture was slower than that of a lysine/glucose mixture and comparable to that of a phenylalanine/glucose mixture. High-performance anion-exchange chromatography (HPAEC) with integrated pulsed amperometric detection (IPAD) showed that the decrease in GABA levels (ca. 10% after heating for 4 h) as a function of heating time was smaller than that of glucose (ca. 30% after heating for 4 h). At the same time, glucose to fructose isomerisation took place. After 20 min of heating at pH 6.0, all mixtures showed a fructose peak, the area of which increased with heating time. However, after correcting for fructose isomerisation, glucose losses were still higher than amino acid losses. In contrast to its precursor glutamic acid, GABA was stable during heating of a solution containing it alone. Heating of GABA-containing D-sugar solutions (xylose, fructose, glucose, maltose and sucrose) showed that the relative order of colour yield was pentose > hexose > disaccharides. As well as glucose to fructose isomerisation, HPAEC-IPAD allowed monitoring of the different isomerisation reactions occurring, and also disaccharide hydrolysis in the different GABA/sugar mixtures. (c) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.