This article assesses the extent to which some familiar HPLC detectors can provide reliable quantitative analytical measurements when no suitable primary reference standard exists. The advantages and limitations of two candidate detector schemes are discussed ? evaporative light-scattering detection (ELSD) and chemiluminescent nitrogen detection (CLND). It was found that when the ERETIC (Electronic REference To access In-vivo Concentrations) method in proton NMR was used as a "gold standard" reference procedure the ability of CLND to provide reliable single calibrant quantification is superior to ELSD. Furthermore, ELSD showed bias towards underestimation of chromatographically-resolved impurities, resulting in an overestimation of analyte purity.