This paper describes a simple and accurate procedure for preconcentration of trace amounts of Fe(III), Pb(II) and Cr(III) ions. The preconcentration procedure is based on retention of p-xylenol blue chelates on Amberlite XAD-7. The analytes retained were eluted from Amberlite XAD-7 by using 1 mol L-1 HCl. The influences of the analytical parameters including amounts of reagents, pH and type of eluent were also investigated. The detection limits of Fe, Pb and Cr were found to be 3.07, 18.6 and 3.27 mu g L-1, respectively. The accuracy of the procedure was checked by the analysis of an electrolytic copper wire sample. The relative error was less than 5%. The presented method was applied to the determination of Fe(IIi), Pb(II) and Cr(III) in water samples from Denizli, Turkey with good results such as recoveries more than 95%, relative standard deviations below 10%. (c) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.