Arnica montana preparations have been used in Europe for centuries to treat skin disorders. Among the biologically active ingredients in the flower heads of the plant are sequiterpenes, flavonoids and phenolic acids. For the simultaneous determination of compounds belonging to the latter two groups a micellar electrokinetic capillary chromatography (MEKC) method was developed and validated. By using an electrolyte solution containing 50 mM borax, 25 mM sodium dodecyl sulfate and 30% of acetonitrile the separation of seven flavonoids and four caffeic acid derivatives was feasible in less than 20 min. The optimized system was validated for repeatability (sigma(rel) < or = 4.4%), precision (inter-day sigma(rel) < or = 8.13%, intra-day sigma(rel) < or = 4.32%), accuracy (recovery rates from 96.8 to 102.4%), sensitivity (limit of detection (LOD) < or = 4.5 microg mL(-1)) and linearity (R(2) > or = 0.9996), and then successfully applied to assay several plant samples. In all of them the most dominant flavonoid was found to be quercetin 3-O-glucuronic acid, whereas 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid was the major phenolic acid; the total content of flavonoids and phenolic acids varied in the samples from 0.60 to 1.70%, and 1.03 to 2.24%, respectively.