A simple and new procedure for the determination of trace amounts of lead(II), cobalt(II), manganese(II) and copper(II) is described, that combines atomic absorption spectrometry-gadolinium hydroxide coprecipitation. One milliliter of 1% gadolinium(III) solution was added to each sample; the pH was then adjusted to 11 in order to collect trace heavy metals on gadolinium(III) hydroxide. The precipitate was separated by centrifugation and dissolved in 1 mL of 1 mol L(-1) HNO(3). The influences of analytical parameters including amount of gadolinium(III), sample volume, etc. were investigated on the recoveries of analyte ions. The effects of concomitant ions were also examined. The recoveries of the analyte ions were greater than 95. The detection limits for the analyte elements based on 3 sigma (n = 20) were in the range of 0.52-12.0 mu g L(-1). The method was applied to the determination of analytes in real samples and good results were obtained (relative standard deviations <10%, recoveries >95%). (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.