In this study, a water-soluble polymer, polyvinylpyrrolidinone (PVP) having chelating functionalities was used for the preconcentration and separation of traces of Pb, Cu, Ve and Mn prior to their determination by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry. For this purpose, the sample and the PVP solutions were mixed and the metal bound polymer was precipitated by adding the mixture onto acetone. The precipitate was separated by decantation and dissolved with water. By increasing the ratio of the volumes of sample to water used in dissolving the precipitate, the analyte elements were concentrated as needed. The concentration of trace elements was determined using graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry. The analyte elements in matrix free aqueous solutions were quantitatively recovered. The validity of the proposed method was checked with a standard reference material (NIST SRM 1577b bovine liver) and spiked fruit juice, sea water and mineral water samples. The analytical results were found to be in good agreement with certified and added values. Detection limits (3delta) were 1.7, 3.6 and 4.1 mug l(-1) for Pb, Cu and Mn, respectively, using 10 mul of sample volume. The method is novel and can be characterized by rapidity, simplicity, quantitative recovery and high reproducibility. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.