The growing field called Metabolomics detects and quantifies the low molecular weight molecules, known as metabolites (constituents of the metabolome), produced by active, living cells under different conditions and times in their life cycles. NMR is playing an important role in metabolomics because of its ability to observe mixtures of small molecules in living cells or in cell extracts.

The words 'Metabolomics' and 'Metabonomics' are often used interchangably, though a consensus is beginning to develop as to the specific meaning of each. The goals of Metabolomics are to catalog and quantify the myriad small molecules found in biological fluids under different conditions. Metabonomics is the study of how the metabolic profile of a complex biological system changes in response to stresses like disease, toxic exposure, or dietary change.