O-(2,3,4,5,6-pentafluorobenzyl)Hydroxylamine (PFBOA) was used as a derivatization reagent for carbonyl compounds in beer. Derivatization was carried out in aqueous solution without extraction or concentration of the sample. The effects of antifoam agent, reaction time and pH on the reaction efficiency were studied. Antifoam RD, a silicone polymer-based antifoam reagent, was the best antifoaming agent since it did not cause interferences. Reaction time studies showed that the yield of aldehydes increased up to 12 hr and then decreased slightly. The yield of 3-hydroxybutanone, a test compound for ketones, increased throughout the 48 hr test period. The natural pH of beer (ca. 4.5) was favourable for the determination of carbonyl compounds as PFBOA derivatives. Higher pH values caused yield losses and some compounds, such as butanedione, 2,3-pentanedione and 5-hydroxymethyl-2-furfural, could not be measured at all in neutral or basic conditions. Carbonyl compounds were identified by GC-MS, using three different ionization techniques, electron impact ionization, chemical ionization, and negative chemical ionization. The formation of the protonated molecules by ammonia chemical ionization and formation of the negative molecular ions and [M — HF]−. ions by negative chemical ionization permitted reliable identification of the various carbonyl compounds studied. Sixteen carbonyl compounds from the 32 standard compounds were identified in beer and 11 of the most significant were quantitated using GC-ECD. Reproducibility of quantitation for beer samples was good, the relative standard deviations varied between 2.7 and 6.7 %. The estimated detection limits of the PFBOA derivatives of the carbonyl compounds in beer varied in the range of 0.01–1 μg/dm3.