A rapid high-performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) method for the determination of nine biogenic amines and trimethylamine (TMA) was developed. A derivatization procedure is reported. It involves dissolving benzoyl chloride in acetonitrile to enhance its reaction with biogenic amines. This was compared with benzoyl chloride dissolved in methanol and with only benzoyl chloride to find the optimal condition for benzoylation of biogenic amines in terms of time and derivatization conditions. A gradient elution system was used for analysis with a mixture of acetonitrile and HPLC grade water and took less than 7 min to complete the analysis. The application of this method to detect biogenic amines in herring stored at 2 +/- 2 degreesC and in modified atmosphere packing (MAP) was investigated. The concentrations of amines in herring held at 2 +/- 2 degreesC increased more rapidly than herring stored in MAP. The level of TMA in herring held at 2 +/- 2 degreesC was higher than herring stored in MAP. No significant differences were found in histamine concentrations between herring stored at 2 +/- 2 degreesC and in MAP during the early stages of storage period but there was a significant difference (P < 0.05) after 6 days of storage. Significant differences were found (P < 0.05) in concentrations of putrescine (after 6 days) and cadaverine (after 4 days) between herring held at 2 +/- 2 degreesC and in MAP.