The average fluorescence lifetimes of nine North Sea, crude oils with API gravities of between 20 and 51 were measured using a modular, filter based, instrument developed in-house. Two pulsed light emitting diode (LED) excitation sources (460 and 510 nm) were used to excite fluorescence, the lifetime of which was measured at a range of emission wavelengths. Fluorescence lifetimes were found to vary from 1.8 to 8.2 ns with confidence intervals of +/- 0.11 ns. The average lifetimes at all emission wavelengths were linearly correlated with API gravity and with aromatic concentration with the best results being obtained with the 460 nm excitation source. Predictive models with an accuracy of +/- 7.6 API degrees were generated using partial least-squares methods from average fluorescence lifetimes measured at an emission wavelength of 500 nm using 460 nm excitation. A better correlation was found between the aromatic concentration of the oils and the ratio of the average fluorescence lifetimes at measured at 550 and 650 nm using 460 nm excitation. This led to a. quantitative model with an accuracy of +/- 5.4% for aromatic concentration. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.