Rapid analyses were performed using reversed-phase liquid chromatography with short (20–100 mm) columns swept by fast yet shallow gradients, and the results compared with those obtained with 150 mm columns and slow gradients. The resolution losses incurred with shorter columns were minimised by employing elevated flow rates, to ensure that comparable mean retention factors were experienced by individual analytes during gradients run on different columns. This conserves gradient steepness. High quality performance was obtained with turn-around times of 5–10 minutes. An overall 5-fold enhancement in the rate of information generation was obtained. The relevance of instrumental parameters and of column and packing dimensions, upon the potential for improved performance is discussed. Some implications for the rapidly developing technique of capillary electrochromatography are briefly indicated.