A simple and effective method is presented for the separation and preconcentration of thorium(IV) and uranium(VI) by solid phase extraction on Duolite XAD761 adsorption resin. Thorium(IV) and uranium(VI) 9-phenyl-3-fluorone chelates are formed and adsorbed onto the Duolite XAD761. Thorium(IV) and uranium(VI) are quantitatively eluted with 2 mol L-1 HC1 and determined by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The influences of analytical parameters including pH, amount of reagents, amount of Duolite XAD761 and sample volume, etc. were investigated on the recovery of analyte ions. The interference of a large number of anions and cations has been studied and the optimized conditions developed have been utilized for the trace determination of uranium and thorium. A preconcentration factor of 30 for uranium and thorium was achieved. The relative standard deviation (N = 10) was 2.3% for uranium and 4.5% for thorium ions for 10 replicate determinations in the solution containing 0.5 mu g of uranium and thorium. The three sigma detection limits (N = 15) for thorium(IV) and uranium(VI) ions were found to be 4.5 and 6.3 ng L-1, respectively. The developed solid phase extraction method was successively utilized for the determination of traces thorium(IV) and uranium(VI) in environmental samples by ICP-MS. (C) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.