Carcinogenic formaldehyde is produced by endogenous protein oxidation and various exogenous sources. With formaldehyde being both ubiquitous in the ambient environment and one of the most common reactive carbonyls produced from endogenous metabolism, quantifying formaldehyde exposure is an essential step in risk assessments. We present in this study an approach to assess the risk of exposure to oxidative stress by quantifying thiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid (TA), a cysteine-conjugated metabolite of formaldehyde in toxicant-exposed Escherichia coli. The method entails TA derivatization with ethyl chloroformate, addition of isotope-labeled TA derivatives as internal standards, solid-phase extraction of the derivatives, and quantification by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). After validating for accuracy and precision, the developed method was used to detect TA in oxidizing agent-exposed E. coli samples. Dose-dependent TA formation was observed in E. coli exposed to hydroxyl radical mediators Fe(2+)-EDTA, H2O2, and NaOCl, indicating the potential use of TA as a biomarker of exposure to oxidative stress and disease risk.