The behaviour of homocysteine and cysteine at mercury electrodes is compared. The one-electron oxidation associated with thiols is shown to be the same for both compounds in acidic phosphate buffer, giving rise to an adsorbed thiol-mercury complex, (RS)2Hg, at the electrode surface. Formation of this complex is utilized in the cathodic stripping voltammetric determination of homocysteine; the detection limit is 10-9 M after a deposition time of 90 s at a hanging mercury drop electrode. The similar E 1 2 values for homocysteine and cysteine mean that prior separation is needed for their individual determination. Amperometric detection with a mercury-coated goal electrode after separation by cation-exchange liquid chromatography provides a method for the simultaneous determination of both compounds. Reduction of homocystine at the mercury electrode is also compared to that of cystine. The more negative reduction potential, and the maximum observed for homocystine on d.c. polarograms, which is not seen for cystine, is attributable to different reaction kinetics at the mercury electrode; the products of both the 2-electron reductions are the corresponding thiol-containing amino acids.