In this study, a solid phase extraction method has been developed for the preconcentration and separation of the elements Cr(III), Fe(III), Co(II) and Pb(II) at trace levels by using a column packed with Amberlite XAD-1180 resin loaded with 4-(2-pyridylazo)-resorcinol (PAR) reagent. After preconcentrating, the metals retained on the column were eluted with 20 mL of 3 mol/L HNO3 and then determined by flame atomic absorption spectrometry (FAAS). The factors affecting the recovery of the elements, such as pH, type and concentration of eluent, volume of sample and elution solution, and matrix components, were also ascertained. The recoveries of Cr(III), Fe(III), Co(II) and Pb(II) were found to be 99 +/- 4, 97 +/- 3, 95 +/- 3 and 98 +/- 4%, respectively, under the optimum conditions at 95% confidence level and the relative standard deviations found by analyzing of nine replicates were <= 4.4%. The preconcentration factors for Cr(III), Fe(III), Co(II) and Pb(II) were found as 75, 125, 50 and 75 respectively. The detection limits (DL, 3s/b) were 3.0 mu g/L for Cr(III), 1.25 mu g/L for Fe(III), 3.3 mu g/L for Co(II), and 7.2 mu g/L for Pb(II). The recoveries achieved by adding of metals at known concentrations to samples and the analysis results of Buffalo river sediment (RM 8704) show that the described method has a good accuracy. The proposed method was applied to tap water, stream water, salt and street dust samples.