A gas chromatography/ion trap mass spectrometry (GC/ITMS) method was developed for the determination of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). ITMS parameters were optimized in order to achieve the best sensitivity for the PBDE analysis. Tandem mass spectrometry, along with an isotope dilution internal standard method, was used for the quantitation. Chromatographic windows were developed for mono- to hepta-BDEs, depending on the retention times when a 30-m GC column was used. A different 15-m column was used to analyze deca-BDE. Environmental soil samples collected from an electronic waste recycling site were prepared by using Soxhlet extraction and column chromatographic cleanup. Average recoveries of 61-118% were obtained for the ¹³C-labeled PBDE internal standards spiked in the samples prior to sample preparation. The accuracy represented by relative analytical errors was -24% to 18%, and the precision (relative standard deviation) was 11-26% (n = 8). The method detection limits ranged from 0.013-0.25 ng/g for the PBDEs in soil. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.