Mercury electrodes are oxidized in the presence of ethynyloestradiol, a synthetic steroid. The direct polarographic response obtained is based on the formation of an insoluble mercury compound. In analytical applications of this response, interference from laevonorgestrel, which is found in extracts from combined oral contraceptives, renders the direct determination of ethynyloestradiol impossible. However, reverse-phase liquid chromatography provides separation of the two steroids prior to electrochemical detection of both species at either static or dropping mercury electrodes. Linear response is obtained for 2.5-15.0 μg ml-1 ethynyloestradiol and 12.5-50 μg ml-1 laevonorgestrel with 20-μl injections. A microprocessor-based waveform generator is used to optimize the electro-chemical detection. The method is applied to pharmaceutical formulations; the data obtained agree satisfactorily with the nominal contents. Cathodic stripping voltammetry is briefly investigated for very low levels of ethynyloestradiol; the detection limit is around 5 × 10-9 M on standard solutions.