Peptides can be adsorbed on octadecasilyl-silica from large volumes of aqueous solution and eluted with aqueous solvent mixtures containing methanol or acetonitrile. These properties may be used for the extraction and purification of peptide fragments in plasma samples collected from rats. After intravenous injection of Synacthen [corticotropin-(1-24)-tetracosapeptide], it was shown that within 2 min the main circulating products were intact peptide and its sulphoxide. In addition, a number of fragments indicative of cleavage at the N- and C-termini were present. Most of the products formed from Synacthen have low biological activity. Somatostatin was rapidly cleaved in vivo and in vitro to a single product, which probably retains biological activity. The absence of other circulating products suggests that somatostatin is only inactivated once it leaves the circulation.