On-line chemical vapor generation atomic fluorescence spectrometry (CVG-AFS) was, for the first time, used to determine trace copper in biological samples by merging acidified sample solution with potassium tetrahydroborate aqueous solution in the presence of micro-amounts of 1,10-phenanthroline. Nitric acid, for both sample digestion and chemical vapor generation, was used as the acid medium. CVG conditions and instrumental parameters were optimized for the best CVG efficiency, good gas/liquid separation, and efficient atomization/excitation. Under the optimized conditions, a limit of detection of 4 ng mL(-1) was obtained for copper, with a linear dynamic range of over three orders of magnitude. The proposed method was successfully applied to the determination of copper in biological certified reference materials.