An automated analytical apparatus comprises an introduction station for receiving a plurality of reagent packages. Each package has a plurality of receptacles, at least one of which includes a sample liquid to be analyzed, and at least one of which includes a liquid reagent for forming a reaction mixture with the sample liquid. A liquid transfer station is included for transferring liquid contained in one or more receptacles of a reagent package into, out of or among different receptacles thereof, including the formation of the reaction mixture. A detector is provided for detecting a characteristic of the sample by analyzing the reaction mixture contained in one of the receptacles of a package. A storage area is included within the apparatus for storing a plurality of reagent packages. A shuttle system transports individual reagent packages in any order and in any direction between the introduction area, the liquid transfer station, the detector and the storage area.