Changes in glycolytic metabolites, nucleotide degradation products, free amino acids and other amino compounds were monitored in beef muscle (M. longissimus lumborum), stored for 21 days at 4 °C, in order to evaluate how post-mortem conditioning may affect flavour formation in beef. The major effects observed in sugar-related substances were the dephosphorylation of the phosphates of glucose, fructose and mannose, to yield their free sugars, as well as the breakdown of inosine 5?-monophosphate, to give a sixfold increase in ribose. Total reducing sugars increased by only 15% during conditioning, while glycogen levels remained unchanged from 2 days post-slaughter. Free amino acids increased during conditioning, particularly between days 7 and 14. Phenylalanine, methionine, lysine, leucine and isoleucine were the amino acids showing the greatest increase with conditioning time, with methionine, in particular, showing a sevenfold increase during the conditioning period. The effects of these precursor changes on cooked beef flavour are discussed.