The direct electroanalysis of complex formulations containing alpha-tocopherol ( vitamin E) is possible in micellar solution and employing microwave-enhanced voltammetry. In the presence of microwave radiation substantial heating and current enhancement effects have been observed at 330 mu m diameter glassy carbon electrodes placed into a micellar aqueous solution and both hydrophilic and highly hydrophobic redox systems are detected. For the water soluble Fe(CN)(6)(3-/4-) redox system in micellar aqueous solutions of 0.1 M NaCl and 0.1 M sodium dodecylsulfate (SDS) at low to intermediate microwave power, thermal effects and convection effects are observed. At higher microwave power, thermal cavitation is induced and dominates the mass transport at the electrode surface. For the micelle-soluble redox systems tert-butylferrocene and 2,5-di-tert-butyl-1,4-benzoquinone, strong and concentration dependent current responses are observed only in the presence of microwave radiation. For the oxidation of micelle-soluble alpha-tocopherol current responses at glassy carbon electrodes are affected by adsorption and desorption processes whereas at platinum electrodes, analytical limiting currents are obtained over a wide range of alpha-tocopherol concentrations. However, for the determination of alpha-tocopherol in a commercial formulation interference from proteins is observed at platinum electrodes and direct measurements are possible only over a limited concentration range and at glassy carbon electrodes.