A sensitive reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) method has been developed and validated for the determination of imatinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, and its main metabolite N-desmethyl-imatinib (CGP74588) in human plasma and relevant murine biological matrices. A simple HPLC assay for the individual quantification of imatinib and CGP74588 in murine specimens has not been reported to date. Sample pre-treatment involved liquid-liquid extraction with tert-butyl-methyl ether. Imatinib, CGP74588 (metabolite) and the internal standard 4-hydroxybenzophenone were separated using a narrow bore (2.1 x 150 mm) stainless steel Symmetry C(18) column and detected by UV at 265 nm. The mobile phase consisted of 28% (v/v) acetonitrile in 50 mM ammonium acetate buffer pH 6.8 containing 0.005 M 1-octane sulfonic acid and was delivered at 0.2 mL/min. The calibration curve was prepared in blank human plasma and was linear over the dynamic range 10 ng/mL to 10 microg/mL). The accuracy was close to 100% and the within-day and between-day precisions were within the generally accepted 15% range. The validation results showed that the assay was selective and reproducible. This method was applied to study the pharmacokinetics of imatinib and its main metabolite in human and mice.