A simple and selective method for the determination of Cu(2+), Zn(2+) and Mn(2+) ions in real samples by FAAS after solid-phase extraction was developed. The method is based on the sorption of metal ions on Amberlite XAD-16 modified by 3-((2,6-dichlorophenyl)(1H-indol-3-yl)methyl)-1H-indole (DCPIMI) at a pH of 5.0. The metal ions retained on solid phase by complexation with ligand were then eluted with 6 mL of 4 mol L(-1) nitric acid in acetone. In order to obtain a reversible uptake and elution of metal ions, the influence of flow rates of eluent and sample solution, ligand concentration and amount of surfactant and condition of elution solution was also investigated. A preconcentration factor of 225 was achieved by passing 1350 mL of sample through the solid phase, while the limit of detection (LOD) of Cu(2+), Zn(2+) and Mn(2+) ions were found to be 1.9, 1.5 and 2.6 ng mL(-1), respectively, and the corresponding precision at 20 mu g L(-1) was 2.1%, 2.3%, 3.0%. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.