Ion traps are an increasingly common presence as mass analysers in commercial bench-top mass spectrometers. Such instruments, usually interfaced with electrospray ionisation or nanospray sources, are invariably aimed at organic and biological applications, such as in the analysis of proteins, pharmaceuticals, organics, biomarkers, metabolites, etc. However, the abilities of ion trap mass spectrometers (extraordinary sensitivity, good resolution, MS" for structural information) can be profitably employed in the analysis of inorganic and organometallic compounds. We highlight these abilities, identify various problems and suggest the areas that will perhaps benefit most from employment of ion trap instruments. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.