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Serum and plasma are the most common clinical specimens used for electrophoresis applications. Urine and cerebrospinal fluids (CSF) are also suitable. Other body fluids such as pleural fluid and pericardial fluid are analyzed less frequently.

Some specimens require pretreatment before electrophoresis. Low concentrations of proteins normally in urine and CSF are concentrated in order to have enough proteins for detectable separations. Some body fluids require removal of pigments, salts, and other compounds that interfere with electrophoresis or the detection of separated solutes.

In molecular diagnostic testing of DNA and RNA, the nucleic acids must first be isolated from the specimen and then purified before separation with electrophoresis.