Biomarker identification is becoming increasingly important for the development of personalized or stratified therapies. Metabolomics yields biomarkers indicative of phenotype that can be used to characterize transitions between health and disease, disease progression and therapeutic responses. The desire to reproducibly detect ever greater numbers of metabolites at ever diminishing levels has naturally nurtured advances in best practice for sample procurement, storage and analysis. Reciprocally, since many of the available extensive clinical archives were established prior to the metabolomics era and were not processed in such an 'ideal' fashion, considerable scepticism has arisen as to their value for metabolomic analysis. Here we have challenged that paradigm.