Interest in analytical methods for plant estrogens (phytoestrogens) has risen sharply in the past 10 years. In this review, we examine the existing analytical methods based on separations by gas-liquid chromatography, high-performance liquid chromatography and capillary electrophoresis in addition to methods of detection by ultraviolet absorption, fluorescence, electrochemical oxidation/reduction and mass spectrometry. These methods are compared with other methods of phytoestrogen analysis utilizing immunoassay approaches. The advantages and disadvantages of each of these methods are highlighted and potential areas for further development identified. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.