A sensitive chiral capillary HPLC-MS/MS method well suited for the determination of amino acid enantiomers in biological samples was developed. The method involved precolumn derivatization of the sample with 7-fluoro-4-nitrobenzoxadiazole (NBD-F). After derivatization, NBD-amino acids were stacked on a [C.sub.18] reversed-phase extraction microcolumn, thus enriching and cleaning up the analytes. Various chiral stationary phases (CSPs) including cyclodextrin-bonded silica, Pirkle-type, vancomycin, and teicoplanin-bonded silica particles were evaluated for resolving NBD-F tagged amino acid enantiomers with mobile phases compatible with MS detection. It was found that only teicoplanin aglycon CSP provided sufficient resolution of NBD-Asp and NBD-Ser enantiomers to quantify trace levels of D-Asp and D-Ser in tissue samples. MS/MS detection of NBD-amino acid derivatives was very sensitive and selective. The high selectivity allowed the use of a stable isotope-labeled analyte analogue (i.e., L-aspartic acid-2,3,3-[d.sub.3]) as internal standard for the quantitation to improve assay reproducibility and reliability. Neural tissue samples dissected from rat brain and the central nervous system (CNS) of Aplysia californica, a widely used neuronal model, were analyzed to determine the chirality of glutamic acid (Glu), aspartic acid (Asp), and serine (Ser). The former two are major excitatory amino acids in the brain, and the last one has been recently identified as a neuromodulator. Both D-Ser and D-Asp were detected in rat brain. While the D-Asp level decreased rapidly through the developmental stages of the rat, the D-Ser level increased steadily from 82.3 [micro]g/g of wet tissue in 3-day prenatal rats to 241.3 [micro]g/g of wet tissue in 90-day-old rats. Interestingly, no D-Ser was detected in the CNS of Aplysia, a "primitive" invertebrate. However, the D-Asp level in this animal was found to be high. In a particular connective nerve sample, D-Asp was at 323.2 [micro]g/g of wet tissue and constituted 60.2% of total Asp. D-Glu was not detected either in rat brain or in Aplysia's CNS.