A column, solid-phase extraction (SPE), preconcentration method was developed for determination of Bi, Cd, Co, Cu, Fe, Ni and Pb ions in drinking water, sea water and sediment samples by flame atomic absorption spectrometry. The procedure is based on retention of analytes in the form of pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate complexes on a short column of Chromosorb-102 resin from buffered sample solution and then their elution from the resin column with acetone. Several parameters, such as pH of the sample solution, amount of Chromosorb-102 resin, amount of ligand, volume of sample and eluent, type of eluent, flow rates of sample and eluent, governing the efficiency and throughput of the method were evaluated. The effects of divers ions on the preconcentration were also investigated. The recoveries were >95%. The developed method was applied to the determination of trace metal ions in drinking water, sea water and sediment samples, with satisfactory results. The 3sigma detection limits for Cd, Cu, Fe, Ni and Pb and were found to be as 0.10, 0.44, 11, 3.6, and 10 mug l(-1), respectively. The relative standard deviation of the determination was <10%. The procedure was validated by the analysis of a standard reference material sediment (GBW 07309) and by use of a method based on coprecipitation. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.